Elsewhere on my website, I’ve written about biodiversity within ecosystems. I wanted to talk a little more about why it’s an important topic . . . and why it’s worth considering in our gardens.
A dictionary definition of an ecosystem is: “a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment”.
In other words, an ecosystem contains a lot of parts interacting with each other within a single whole.
In some ways, you might liken it to your own body. Your body has a nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, and more. Separate parts, all working to keep a single whole – you – alive.
Well, the world we live in is a bit like that.
We depend on the various systems of our bodies to work well to sustain our lives. Likewise, we depend on the systems that sustain life on our planet to be in healthy working order.
To that end, the most important idea to grasp is that everything is connected. Health in one part contributes to health in the whole. Likewise, pain, injury, disease, or imbalance in one part affects the whole.
Continuing with the analogy of your own body, let’s think about some of the other parts. If you lost an eye, you could keep on living. Same with an ear, or a hand, or even a leg.
But if we can avoid their loss, we do. We want to avoid pain, of course. But additionally, our eyes, ears, hands, and legs add functional value to our lives.
Moving back to ecosystems: The fact is, we still don’t know every detail of how all the relationships within our ecosystems function together.
But we do know that an ecosystem is made up of a vast web of interrelated parts. We do know that you can’t affect a part without affecting the whole. We do know that our lives depend, in part, on the health of the environments (small to large) within which we reside.
And we do know that we’re uniquely powerful members within the system.
Chances are, not one of us would want to lose a pinky toe to find out how it was contributing to our balance all along. In the same vein, why would we want to sacrifice any strands of our ecosystem, even (or perhaps especially) if we don’t yet understand exactly what function they’re providing?
Do we really want to do the whole ‘you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone’ song and dance?
The fact is, as homeowners, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to (or subtract from) the health of the ecosystem where we live. And there are a lot of us, about 77.2 million (in 2018).
Keeping relationships and function in mind as we garden is one way we can make a deposit to ecological health rather than a withdrawal.
Why let such an opportunity pass us by?
But that’s enough from me . . . I’d really like to hear from you!
What are your thoughts on the subject?