Unnatural Preservation

An article from the USA about the choices many conservationists are now facing as climate change threatens the fundamental conditions, such as temperature, water, wind direction, nutrient dispersal, seasonal variation, etc. which allow a habitat to thrive. It raises difficult questions. How much effort should we put into preserving, or re-instating, what we think should be there? Do we know enough to be able to do anything different?

Unnatural Preservation
from High Country News, February 04, 2008
by M. Martin Smith and Fiona Gow

In the age of global warming, public-land managers face a stark choice: They can let national parks and other wildlands lose their most cherished wildlife. Or they can become gardeners and zookeepers

… So professional preservationists, and the environmental movement as a whole, are left with unnatural choices: They can intervene aggressively to maintain habitat threatened by planetary warming – installing sprinkler systems around California’s giant sequoias, to name one suggestion floated by scientists. In the process they would become something akin to farmers and pet fanciers.

They can intervene aggressively to provide huge migration paths northward for heat-threatened plants and animals. Because this would require them to help dramatically change existing ecosystems, it would turn the current conservation ethic on its head.

Or they can decide to continue to use the traditional hands-off approach – and thereby allow millennia-old ecosystems to die off and be replaced in ways that would never have happened naturally, if not for global warming.

link to full article