Thoughts, ideas, stories, presses, prezzies . . .

Join

Do you want to submerge yourself into billion dollar vistas and help the world?  Well, you can! Come along and join the coring campaign in and around Melbourne, Victoria.

Here is the live plan (Google Spreadsheet) of the daily trips & post-trip sample processing. Send me email on p.waryszak@deakin.edu.au if you can join any of the pre-planned activities (check the blue & yellow column in the above Spreadsheet).

What blue vistas to expect (Swan Bay below):

WHY?

Removal of atmospheric CO2 through biosequestration is necessary to keep global warming under control and move world to a low-carbon economy.  Australian coastal ecosystems present a huge blue capital worth billions of dollars (see Lavery 2013). Blue because these ecosystems can pull down and store atmospheric CO2 (out of blue skies) for years to come.  As part of my job as a research assistant at Blue Carbon Lab is to lead 2018 coring campaign to assess the carbon stock and carbon sequestration rate across multiple locations in Victoria and multiple blue carbon ecosystems = seagrass, saltmarsh and mangrove ecosystems. Be fast, Reserve the spot for the unforgettable ride (email me on: p.waryszak@deakin.edu.au)!

Our letter below was triggered by the editorial piece of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (Feagin 2017, Byers 2018) that tackled the role of Ecology in current state of global affairs. Is science of Ecology more human-focused or it is rather a humble science? Me and Christina wanted to add our own opinion but as we found out it was a pre-engineered two-letter discussion and we got rejected right away with these words from Editor of FEE:

(…) The original editorial was very much an opinion piece (as editorials always are) and we allowed someone else to provide a counterpoint to that opinion with an opposing view; having done that, it was decided that this particular conversation had gone as far as it should go, and should not be continued. Your own letter was somewhat unfocused, with mentions of all sorts of things, from terraforming on Mars to journal paywalls, and it was not felt that it added anything particularly constructive that would have justified us in re-opening this particular discussion. It was therefore decided not to send it out to peer review (which all Write Back letters go through, if they are to be considered for publication).

I hope this helps to explain our decision

Sincerely

Editor-in-Chief,

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

 

Our Letter:

WetlandPicture2018

Ecology in Action at Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, Australia

“ECOLOGY, THE RESPECTFUL SCIENCE”


AUTHORS: PAWEL WARYSZAK, CHRISTINA BIRNBAUM

The over-optimism in the science of ecology as laid out in Frontiers September editorial “Ecology, the optimistic science” (Feagin, 2017) was met with a call for a less grandiose attitude in Frontiers April Letter entitled “Ecology, the humbling science” (Byers, 2018). Clearly, this over-optimism in ecological science stems mainly from its anthropocentric branch. Sadly, anthropocentric values make us recreate the natural world and rationalize the utility of “designed” ecosystems. Biodiversity offset programs, which are growing in popularity, are another example of a line of thought behind “designed” ecosystems concept. Licenses to destroy remnant ecosystems are issued as over-optimistic attitudes blurs our respect and understanding of complex network or biological interactions (Waryszak 2017). Yet, no net biodiversity was gained as a result of the analysed developments (Maron et al. 2012). Hence, there are at least three additional considerations that need to be added towards the argument against the over-optimistic anthropocentric science of ecology:

  1. Firstly, eco-engineering will not re-create once intact and functionally complex natural ecosystems. In order to step out of anthropocentrism, one has to recognize that there is nothing optimistic in the statement by Feagin (2017) that the process of actively constructing and creating ecosystems is ethically sound. Tinkering with the remainder of the wild areas brings us to the core of existential debate around uprooting oneself from the past. Wild areas and remnant ecosystems hold the immense knowledge on the very mechanisms of how nature works. Homo sapiens is part of the natural evolutionary process, not a god-like creature who can re-create the natural ecosystems. To continue tinkering with our natural history is to uproot oneself from the rich evolutionary past towards lonely human-made planet. Only between 1993 and 2017 wilderness areas that hold the knowledge of our evolutionary past have shrunk by 10% (Allan, Venter & Watson 2017). We strongly encourage the over-optimistic eco-engineers to run their terraforming experiments elsewhere, for example, on planet Mars. We, for once, do not wish to live on eco-engineered Earth as this also means an end to the science of ecology as a whole.
  2. Secondly, we have to remember to see the big picture. Dry and factual reporting of how wilderness areas and biological diversity shrink may cause objectification of our study subject or system and somewhat detachment from it. As ecologists, it is easy to transition from initial admiration for nature to treat it merely as a subject of our careful study. Thus, sometimes forgetting the fundamental goals of our research – to better understand how nature operates so we can inform managers and policy makers of key habitats to conserve, species to protect and more importantly, gaps in existing knowledge that still need addressing.
  3. Thirdly, communicating science and the importance of nature conservation beyond academic journals. Respect towards the natural ecosystems that form the habitats for millions of other beings than ourselves is the most ethical thing to do. One does not remove wild areas to eco-engineer them to something new. All it does is justifies destruction on the premise that it can be later re-created or restored. We need ecology to understand how ecosystems worked before they were eco-engineered or offset. The volumes of ecological knowledge already exist, however, the high-quality academic publications will not solve the problem of shrinking wilderness conservation areas; our active engagement will. Publishing results in peer-reviewed academic journals only brings the so-called academic glory to the author(s), but neither local activists nor public will ever read the dry and factual paper. Scientists are one of the smartest people on Earth, and yet they express their opinions mostly through elite journals usually locked behind the pay-walls for non-academics. Respect towards ecology will grow if ecologists engage in protecting the wilderness areas – the very objects of their studies as explicitly called out by Gewin (2018) and Allan (2017). How about if every ecologist commits one hour a week to express an opinion directly to the public in plain, understandable English either online using social media or even better, in person by joining local conservation group?

Increased effort from us ecologist to disseminate knowledge of biological diversity on Earth would definitely see more attention to wild areas from developers. In growing respect towards ecology and nature lies our hope.

Reference:

  • Allan, J.R., Kormos, C., Jaeger, T., Venter, O., Bertzky, B., Shi, Y., Mackey, B., Merm, R., Osipova, E., Watson, J.E.M., 2017. Gaps and opportunities for the World Heritage Convention to contribute to global wilderness conservation. Conserv. Biol. 32, 116–126. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12976
  • Allan, J.R., Venter, O. & Watson, J.E.M. 2017 Temporally inter-comparable maps of terrestrial wilderness and the Last of the Wild. Scientific Data, 4, 170187.
  • Byers, B.A., 2018. Ecology, the humbling science. Front. Ecol. Environ. 16, 139. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1782
  • Editorials, 2017. Too many academics study the same people. Nature 551, 141–142. https://doi.org/10.1038/551141b
  • Feagin, R.A., 2017. Ecology, the optimistic science. Front. Ecol. Environ. 15, 351. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1522
  • Gewin, V., 2018. Wilderness maps could shape biodiversity and climate targets. Front. Ecol. Environ. 16, 4–8. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1760
  • Maron, M., Hobbs, R.J., Moilanen, A., Matthews, J.W., Christie, K., Gardner, T.A., Keith, D.A., Lindenmayer, D.B. & McAlpine, C.A. (2012) Faustian bargains? Restoration realities in the context of biodiversity offset policies. Biological Conservation, 155, 141–148.
  • Waryszak, P. (2017) Evaluating emergence, survival, and assembly of Banksia woodland communities to achieve restoration objectives following topsoil transfer. Thesis dissertation, Murdoch University.

 

PS

We think of refocusing the letter onto one given topic, be it bio-engineering or other global challenges facing Ecology. If you are Early Career Researcher who got inspired, and you want to jump on a letter-writing boat, please let us know.

 

 

Climate change and resulting sea-level rise may force shifts in wetland plant communities through modification of flooding and salinity regimes. To understand how these changes affect plant communities in Louisiana wetland ecosystems we used big data set availed by Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) that monitored vegetation and environmental changes over the last decade. We examined the changes in plant communities in relation to salinity and water level gradient, that is across saline, brackish, intermediate and freshwater ecosystems.

CanoeWilliCarolyn

The initial focus of this study was Phragmites australis which is widely distributed  along the Gulf Coast of Mexico (and the core study organism of Farrer Lab). Although P. australis is widespread it was not present in all ecosystems found on Louisiana coast and we decided to broaden our focus and incorporate all alien plants. We used path analysis approach, with “lavaan” R-package, to understand the direct effects of climate change on alien plant and their indirect effects on native plant cover via alien invasions.

ESA2018_Pawel_Waryszak_New_Orleans_04aug2018_IMAGE2

Come to Invasion: Invasibility, Stability, And Diversity Session on Wed, Aug 08 at 11:10 am to see results of my work.

COS 64: Invasion: Invasibility, Stability, And Diversity
Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 (#73330)
Session Time: 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Presentation Time: 11:10 AM
Location: New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 335-336

As we broaden the focus we also changed the title:

Old Title: Extreme salinity fluctuations and invasion by Phragmites australis in wetland ecosystems.
New Title: Direct and indirect effects of climate change on plant communities (alien & native).

You also might be interested in what Christina Birnbaum, our team member, is presenting in the same session at 9:20 am.

 

Let me present you with “Invasion Window” idea (applied ecology field).  This research idea brought me pretty high in the rankings while applying for Forrest Fellowship but not high enough to get funded as per this email below that I woke-up to few days ago:

“… 
Dear Dr Waryszak
Thank you for your application for a Forrest Research Foundation post-doctoral fellowship. The Foundation received 146 applications from highly-qualified candidates, and has decided to shortlist six of them for interview. I am sorry to have to tell you that you are not one of the shortlisted candidates.
The Selection Committee recognised the potential significance of your work on native and alien plants in the context of environmental disturbance. However, in this intensely competitive field of applicants, the Committee decided to give preference to candidates whom it believes have an even stronger research profile.
Thank you again for sharing your enthusiasm for research with the Forrest Research Foundation; we wish you well in your future endeavours.
Yours sincerely,
Warden Forrest Research Foundation
The University of Western Australia | M441 |
Perth WA 6009 |Australia
  …”

 

Research proposal (Intro)

(600 words, this proposal should summarise the issue or problem you are trying to solve, the way you are planning to solve it, and why you believe this work will help to change the world).

 

InvasionWindowGrantIdea

Conceptual visualization of the “Invasion Window” idea.

Increasing stochasticity of environmental factors (e.g., extreme climatic events) coupled with extensive urbanization (e.g., road network) have profound effects on the stability of plant communities worldwide and challenge our ability to restore them. For example, accelerating aridity in savanna ecosystems is likely to increase frequencies of fire events and open an invasion window for alien plant species such as Andropogon gayanus. Additionally, extensive distribution of non-native propagules can be considerably increased via anthropogenic processes like vehicle traffic and urbanization. Hence, complex network of interconnected environmental factors and their increasing stochasticity with climate change will destabilize future native plant communities and challenge our capacity to conserve and restore them.

In restoration projects worldwide, invasion of plants considered native to a region is encouraged and supported while invasion of plants considered alien to the region is undesired as alien species often have detrimental effects on ecosystem functions. Hence, one of the most significant tasks facing land managers is to allocate limited resources to eradicate alien plants and to make room for native species re-establishment. However, focusing resources on clearing of invasive plants carries high risk of failure. Restoration sites that have been cleared are very likely to be rapidly re-invaded by the same plant species as alien plants are often characterized by superior traits. For instance, alien plants are capable of re-engineering the habitat conditions (e.g., altering fire frequency, soil nutrient levels) and once established, may further hinder restoration efforts. Yet, there are no studies that have investigated the role of environmental invasion window that could assist in minimizing the risk of restoration failure. Invasion window (or niche overlap) is defined as a set of essential environmental factors under which two plant species (native and invasive) present equal chances to win in an arms race for resources and establishment. The set of environmental factors may exist at multiple scales, such as:
– Edaphic-scale (soil nutrient level)
– Microbial-scale (presence of beneficial microbes)
– Ecosystem-scale (rainfall, temperature, fire events)
– Landscape-scale (topography, road network)

My proposed research aims to identify environmental invasion window characteristics under which native plants (Eucalyptus miniata, Banksia menziesii) increase their chance to establish following significant disturbance (e.g., fire, land clearing). In so doing, an innovative multi-level framework explaining mechanism behind native and alien plant assembly processes will be developed and tested? To address this goal, proposed research project will comprise four components:

1.

2.

3.

4.

Contact me if you got interested and you want to learn more details/further develop the idea.

Email: pwaryszak[[at]]tulane.edu

With this post I want to start sharing my grand grant ideas that I believe can develop into very exciting research projects provided sufficient interest from funding bodies. I follow the suite of brave Dr Manu Saunders who lists her rejected grants here.

The idea of studying bet-hedging strategies, as shared below, grew out of my work with Farrer Lab in New Orleans (USA) and was presented to American Australian Association. Few weeks ago I got this thrilling email:

“…
Dear Pawel,
Thank you for taking the time to submit your Australia to USA Scholarship application.
Following detailed review by our external panel, we regret to inform you that your application has not been selected for the next round. The decision of our panel is final and we cannot provide individual feedback due to the volume of applications received.
If eligible, we encourage you to apply next year.
Thank you,
Director of Finance, Education and Technology
American Australian Association
50 Broadway, Suite 2003, New York NY 10004
+1 (212) 338-6860 x 304
http://www.americanaustralian.org
….”

Executive Summary (100 words)

Wetland ecosystems minimize the risk of flooding, but increasing sea level coupled with increasing stochasticity of flooding regimes raise the questions related to the resilience of wetland plant communities. What adaptations do wetland plants have for surviving increasingly irregular floods? How do plants spread their risk and bet-hedge against unpredictable flooding and salinity regimes? Do soil microbes facilitate bet-hedging capabilities in invasive Phragmites australis versus native Spartina alterniflora? The proposed research project will tackle these issues in a series of field- and greenhouse-based experiments and provides essential knowledge for effective management and restoration of coastal regions.

Bet-Hedging_AAS_Grant_IDEA_Salinity_Flooding_Sun

Essay: Statement of Purpose (Word count: 1200)

Coastal wetlands are currently experiencing threats from global environmental change and are listed as exceptionally vulnerable to degradation (Laurance et al. 2011). At the same time these wetlands provide critical services to humans such as buffering from storm surge, stabilizing shorelines, reducing wave energy and supporting fisheries (Erwin 2008). Plant communities are the key determinants of coastal wetland resilience and govern their capacity to mitigate these threats (Schile et al. 2014). However, knowledge of the mechanisms of how plants cope with the dynamic coastal conditions is largely missing (Lytle & Poff 2004). Here I propose to understand the bet-hedging strategies that plants use in ecosystems exposed to dramatic disturbance events to spread their risk of extinction. Bet-hedging strategies have been well-studied in arid ecosystems where plant species produce soil seed banks with different levels of dormancy and bet-hedge against stochastic rainfall events: if seeds have no dormancy and all seeds germinate one year, the plant is at risk of losing all their offspring in the case of a drought, but if some proportion of their seeds are dormant, propagules will remain after the drought to germinate in future wetter years. While the bet-hedging strategy is well described for arid ecosystems, little is known how wetland plants hedge their bets for survival following major disturbance (i.e. flooding or hurricanes). Propagules (rhizome or seeds) dispersed into hurricane-riven habitats have to accurately bet-hedge against their chance of establishment under new flooding event. Wetlands seedlings that emerge too soon under new flooding regime may have insufficient resources to establish, given the high flood level while seedlings emerging later or next season may find suitable conditions for growth (under relatively lower flood level).

Microbial communities can strongly influence germination and establishment rates, and pathogen and mutualistic taxa are ubiquitous in soil and on the surface and inside of seeds. Thus I also seek to extend the bet-hedging research and ask whether microbial communities alter the capacity of wetland plant species to bet-hedge. Plant species that are particularly susceptible to microbial pathogens, like some native plants, may benefit from conservative bet-hedging strategies so they do not have to confront pathogenic microbes; whereas invasive plants tolerant to pathogen release may benefit from all-in bet-hedging strategies.

In the low-cost, simple, field- and greenhouse-based experiments designed for this research project, I propose to fill this critical data gap. The following two experiments will help to resolve two important factors that control resilience to disturbance in wetlands plant communities:

Clonal bet-hedging will be investigated in two pivotal wetland plant species (native Spartina alterniflora and alien Phragmites australis) in response to extreme flooding and salinity regimes. Bet-hedging response will be measured in a greenhouse experiment by studying resprouting capacity (number of buds resprouting vs. dormant) of rhizomes planted in a factorial design manipulating salinity (low vs. high) and flooding (low vs. high flooding). The effect of microbial communities on resprouting capacity will be tested by adding a sterile soil/live soil treatment to the experiment.
Seed bet-hedging will be studied in soil seed banks collected in the field. Specifically, soil cores will be collected from the area of large-scale sediment diversion that aimed to redirect sediments from the leveed Mississippi river towards degraded wetlands. Seed bet-hedging response of the field soil seed bank will be measured by looking at the percent of seeds emerging under the first flood mimicking sediment diversion (low salinity and low flooding regime) in relation to percent of seeds germinating under second flood event simulating extreme salt water intrusion (high salinity and high flooding).

Accelerating sea level rise coupled with increasing variability of flooding regimes pose many questions related to resilience and capacity of wetland plant communities (Bhattarai & Cronin 2014; Jankowski et al. 2017): What adaptations do wetland organisms have for inhabiting dynamic wetland ecosystems and surviving increasingly irregular floods? How do native versus alien plant species bet-hedge against stochastic and potentially deadly flooding regimes?

Building on findings of Farrer lab that examined the role of biotic factors in invasion success of alien plant species (i.e., composition of root microbial endophytes) I propose to contribute to current knowledge on invasion processes by studying bet-hedging strategies in wetland plants. There is still remarkably little knowledge on bet-hedging strategies in wetlands ecosystems. The proposed novel approach of examining bet-hedging strategies in native versus alien wetland plants has not yet been tested for wetland plant species neither in Louisiana nor in the world. Since climate change is expected to lead to increasingly variable environments, such as extreme flooding events (Karl & Trenberth 2003), understanding bet-hedging characteristics is crucial in preventing future species extinction risk and to help stabilize wetland habitats. Knowledge of how wetlands plant bet-hedge against dynamic environmental conditions, such as flooding and pulses in salinity, will enhance our ability to design successful wetland restoration projects. For example, knowledge of bet-hedging strategies in wetlands plants will aid growth of native against alien species and assist in choosing the optimum timing and technique for planting activities given the ongoing impact of global change. Furthermore, understanding how microbes influence bet-hedging will inform managers as to selecting the most suitable location for planting activities. More, given strong evidence of microbes effect on bet-hedging and emerging strategies in wetland plants this experiment could open-up a new frontier for wetland restoration ecology science.

Travel to the USA will allow me to continue growing my expertise in plant ecology and restoration with world-class experts. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with a Coastal Master Plan, which lays out strategies to combat coastal land loss and climate change and a timeline for implementation of large-scale restoration efforts. Like Australia, Louisiana’s economy is highly dependent on the coast that supports important sectors such as fisheries and tourism. More, local residents value coastal resources not only for their ecosystem services and a popular residential area but also for their intrinsic values that build a state-wide identity. Tulane has a number of leading experts in coastal ecology including some who have worked in wetland diversion projects. Tulane is also home to the ByWater Institute, which is an interdisciplinary center focused on the ecology and sustainability in the Mississippi Delta region. Dr. Emily Farrer and I already have a working relationship and are looking for funds to continue our collaborations. With this proposal, I plan to build on an innovative research project undertaken in 2017 by the Farrer Lab on the role of microbes in invasion success of Phragmites australis that I was part of as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Farrer focuses on investigating how biotic factors, such as interactions with microbial endophytes, are driving wetland resilience and invasion in the face of climate change. The study of microbial endophytes is a relatively new discipline in ecology and is relevant to practically all ecological systems, as all plants harbor microbiomes in their tissues. In my current postdoc position, I am gaining cutting edge training in microbial ecology, and remaining in a lab with this unique focus for another year will contribute an interesting perspective to my training in restoration ecology. The lab’s focus on P. australis is also highly applicable to ecosystems on a global scale because P. australis is one of the most ubiquitous plant species on Earth, including Australia (Meyerson et al. 2016). Overall, the U.S, and specifically Tulane, is an ideal place to implement my proposed research on how eco-physiological responses in wetland plants contribute to invasion in the context of global change.

The research project comprises of three periods:
1. Intensive preparation work resulting from the experimental design: setting-up greenhouse experiment, acquiring fieldwork permits, sourcing fieldwork consumables (March–June 2019).
2. Intensive greenhouse (4 months monitoring of seedlings’ bet-hedging response, Tulane University facilities) combined with field soil samples collection (Mid-Barataria sedimentation diversion, Louisiana) that will be conducted in the period of active hurricane season to emulate conditions when the bet-hedging strategy is pivotal in wetland plant establishment (July–October 2019)
3. Intensive analysis of gathered data, incorporation of the findings into a bet-hedging model and written and oral communication of results (November 2019 – March 2020). In order to ensure that the findings from this AAA fellowship are widely dispersed to both academic audiences and land managers, generated knowledge will be written up as a scientific article and published in a peer reviewed journal and will also be shared with representatives of local government and community groups (e.g. the Orleans Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana, the Woodland Conservancy and the Gulf Restoration Network).

With over 80% of Australian population inhabiting a 50km strip of the coast it is fundamentally critical to understand how to sustainably manage the coastal environment. Wetlands are the border (ecotone) ecosystems that separate terrestrial habitat from the oceans. Ecotone habitats not only form an important front-line that buffers human communities against sea level rise and extreme flooding events but also harbor a large portion of global biodiversity.
Understanding how to increase the resilience of coastal land by restoring the most adapted plants is crucial to protect the coastal town, for example, New Orleans. The proposed research to test novel ideas of bet-hedging in wetland plants in relation to flooding regime, salinity fluctuations and microbes will improve the vegetation models used globally but also will help to protect and restore coastal communities here in the USA as well as in Australia.

 

References:.

  • Bhattarai, G.P. & Cronin, J.T. (2014) Hurricane Activity and the Large-Scale Pattern of Spread of an Invasive Plant Species. PloS one, 9, e98478.
  • Erwin, K.L. (2008) Wetlands and global climate change: the role of wetland restoration in a changing world. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 17, 71.
  • Jankowski, K.L., Törnqvist, T.E. & Fernandes, A.M. (2017) Vulnerability of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to present-day rates of relative sea-level rise. Nature Communications, 8, 14792.
  • Karl, T.R. & Trenberth, K.E. (2003) Modern global climate change. Science, 302, 1719-1723.
  • Laurance, W.F., Dell, B., Turton, S.M., Lawes, M.J., Hutley, L.B., McCallum, H., Dale, P., Bird, M., Hardy, G., Prideaux, G., Gawne, B., McMahon, C.R., Yu, R., Hero, J.-M., Schwarzkopf, L., Krockenberger, A., Douglas, M., Silvester, E., Mahony, M., Vella, K., Saikia, U., Wahren, C.-H., Xu, Z., Smith, B. & Cocklin, C. (2011) The 10 Australian ecosystems most vulnerable to tipping points. Biological Conservation, 144, 1472-1480.
  • Lytle, D.A. & Poff, N.L. (2004) Adaptation to natural flow regimes. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 19, 94-100.
  • Meyerson, L.A., Cronin, J.T. & Pyšek, P. (2016) Phragmitesaustralis as a model organism for studying plant invasions. Biological Invasions, 18, 2421-2431.
    Schile, L.M., Callaway, J.C., Morris, J.T., Stralberg, D., Parker, V.T. & Kelly, M. (2014) Modeling Tidal Marsh Distribution with Sea-Level Rise: Evaluating the Role of Vegetation, Sediment, and Upland Habitat in Marsh Resiliency. PloS one, 9, e88760.

 

Turf war in WA.

The attack on native gardens as described in recent West Australian (“Verge rules crackdown upsets residents”, Nov 11, 2017, Issue, Page 23) upset me all the way here in Uptown, New Orleans, USA. The very Ex-Minister of Environment, currently Mayor of City of Joondalup Albert Jacob supports issuing notices for residents to remove “offending native plants” and “landscaping features”. It resonates with me very much as I still have vivid memories of participating and co-organizing native garden workshop in 2015 as an active member of Murdoch Branch of Wildflower Society of WA. How on Earth it is possible that residents’ passion for native vegetation is so brutally punished by ex-Minister of Environment?

Let’s try to accept the fact that Ex-Minister for Environment does not care for the terrestrial environment (many Australians do not care for natives either) but genuinely is worried about pedestrians’ well-being. Pedestrians indeed may stumble over a rock, or worse, get entangled in Kennedia prostrata so let me have a closer look at the front lawn culture across the globe.

These lawns mark the Uptown landscape in New Orleans in the same pattern they characterize new sterile and homogenous suburbs of growing Perth. Throughout my life in Perth and here in New Orleans, I realized that front house lawns rarely serve as a space for a leisurely walk or picnic on a swing that indeed can truly increase residents’ well-being.

NewOrleansUptownSwing_PWaryszakCredintOn

From what I see, my understanding is that front lawns serve as a playground for lawn-mowers. And when a regular noise of two-stroke lawn-mower penetrates my brain through to the skull I hardly feel well. Once the lawn-mower stops I realize how huge of a blessing silence is but soon after the engine stops I also start thinking of CO2 and diesel emitted by its noisy works. As the cloud of diesel fumes is still hovering over my head, I also realize that lawn-mowers exacerbate climate change by increasing CO2 levels and increase cancer risk for suburban residents as diesel fumes have been long recognized as cancerogenic.

Recently, I also fight a headache caused by pesticides that are sprayed quietly in the very early mornings. Jogging that is supposedly good for my well-being brings me home with a headache every time I can smell that mild but irritating chemical in the air used to kill off lawn pests. On top of noise made by lawn-mowers and the chemical stench of pesticides lawns also associate significantly well with higher water bill and higher fertilizer concentration in urban rivers.

If Albert Jacob (Mayor) truly cared for residents’ health, he has to take into account potentials risk of having lawns too. I do believe that Trevor Allan who spent ~ $14,000 on his new native garden will advocate for change in council rule and vote for the candidate that genuinely believes in the value of natural landscape vision.

Dispersal Limitation very often a case in failing to restore:

Source: Toward prediction in the restoration of biodiversity