On the land in the Andes we are stewards of, there are many different ecological systems, all of them impacted by centuries of grazing and food production. (Although on a relatively small scale.)
Having visited this land for a while, and now living here, several things that come up for me daily.
RESILIENCE AND VULNERABILITY
One is how amazingly resilient nature is when undisturbed by civilization. Ecosystems have evolved to adapt to just about anything that happens in nature with some regularity.
And, on the other hand, how amazingly vulnerable nature is. Ecosystems can be wiped out in a day with the help of machines.
Ecosystems are amazingly resilient when it comes to what occurs naturally, and amazingly vulnerable to civilization and machines.
ECOSYSTEMS PROTECTING THEMSELVES
Another is a feature of the natural regeneration process. On this land, many of the pioneer species have thorns and form dense thickets it’s difficult or impossible to enter.
It’s as if the ecosystem is protecting itself.
It’s as if it’s saying: You damaged me before. Now, as I am recovering, I don’t want any interference. Stay out.
And, of course, machines and technology (including people with machetes and saws) are no match for this natural defense.
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
I keep reminding myself of how important it is to educate the ones we are working with.
The traditional view here is that the pioneer species are “weeds” and should be gotten rid of. Clear everything so you can see the land and decide what to do with it. Clear it all and lay it barren because it’s not a loss.
And, in reality, if you wish to support a healthy ecosystem, it’s a great loss to remove these pioneer species.
IT’S ALL NATURE
Of course, all of this is nature. All of this is the doings of this living and evolving planet.
Civilization is as much a part of this evolving planet as anything yet.
In that sense, it’s all nature. It’s all really the same. It’s all part of the same seamless system.
This view helps us recognize our interdependence with all life. It helps us ground in something more real than the mind-created distinctions between ourselves and the rest of Earth, life, and existence.
And, in another sense, there is a big difference between nature and civilization. Our technology and machines, combined with our numbers, can easily destroy local, regional, and global ecosystems, and that’s what’s already happening.
We are in the middle of an ecological crisis of massive proportions, and one that will impact all of us and humanity as a whole. And, for whatever reason, it seems that only a few take this seriously.
This distinction is important as well. Ecosystems have evolved to deal with what happens naturally. They cannot defend themselves against machines and technology. (Apart from unraveling, taking us with it, and then – slowly – bouncing back.)
We have to defend them, and in that process, we are defending ourselves.
WE ARE NATURE PROTECTING ITSELF
I started out by talking about how this local ecosystem is protecting itself while recovering from damage. Pioneer species often have thorns and form impenetrable thickets.
And I ended with another way nature is protecting itself. We are nature protecting itself. We are part of the living seamless system of this evolving planet, and when we do anything to protect life, we are nature protecting itself.
When I defend this land and take steps to help it recover, I am nature protecting itself.