What Would Mother Nature Do?
By Anthony P Mauro, Sr (c) 2011
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Today it seems we are bombarded with information stating the fragile condition of the natural environment and inundated with opinions for corrective measures.
Hardly a day goes by without hearing about the green movement, environmental activism or a report about environmental imbalance or degradation.
In response, we try to make sense of these matters but since most of us don’t have backgrounds in the sciences it’s easy to be confused. Complicating our understanding are experts that give conflicting advice and activists with motives of advancing political and social agendas under the cover of environmentalism. It is no wonder that we find ourselves in a state of bewilderment.
There’s a question I ask myself when trying to make sense of environmental problems, “What would Mother Nature do to bring about balance?”
After all, Mother Nature has successfully managed the environment and all living things since the beginning of time. I attempt to understand the problem by looking at it in the context of conservation, since conservation is Mother Nature’s formula for ecosystem balance and the formula that sustains life on earth.
Conservation, or sustainable use, is a process that acts to keep something in a safe or entire state. When applied to the natural world it is the means for maintaining the health of fisheries, habitats, forests, wildlife and biological diversity.
There’s a spokesperson I often see the media use for quotes on environmental matters and I’ll refer to her by the fictitious name, “Guru Jane.” Whenever there’s a quote in the paper from Guru Jane, I try to understand how she relates her position on an environmental matter to conservation methods used by Mother Nature. Unfortunately, there are times there are no apparent links. If Guru Jane isn’t looking at the issue from a conservation standpoint, isn’t her advice prone to doing harm rather than good?
Forests illustrate my point. Let’s imagine that Guru Jane and like-minded people believe that forest health is achieved by “preservation” alone, meaning forests should have no human interference or management. Guru Jane states that forest policy should be to purchase acreage for open space and then insists that trees not be cut, tree disease be eradicated and fires be prevented or immediately suppressed.
On the face of things this might appear to be sound policy, but let’s relate it to conservation – the way Mother Nature manages her forests. Foresters tell us that she uses the forces of fire, insects, disease and wind as mechanisms of forest health and regeneration. The effect of these forces is to provide a healthy habitat for dependent flora and fauna. So what happens if we follow Guru Jane’s recommendation?
Sir Isaac Newton discovered that “for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction” (Newton’s Third Law.) When we apply Newton’s Third Law to Mother Nature the practice of “preservation” prevents the forces of conservation (fire, insects, disease, wind, etc.) from managing ecosystem health and creates an equal and opposite reaction – forests become overgrown.
Overgrowth prevents sunlight from reaching the forest floor. In response, certain vegetation withers and others thrive. This facilitates a change in forest habitat and the dependent wildlife that cannot adapt ultimately perishes. This is currently the case in New Jersey where we have seen near extirpation of quail, grouse, red headed woodpeckers and other plant and animal species.
Commensurately, other species such as deer flourish and in the process cause further ecosystem degradation. Plant succession, which occurs in the absence of Mother Nature’s restraints, grows high and provides a living ladder that reaches nearer to burgeoning tree canopies. There is also an ever-increasing accumulation of forest fuels.
The “opposite reaction” to suppressing Mother Nature’s method of conservation includes the opportunity for fire to exploit accumulated forest fuels and travel along living ladders of vegetation to yawning tree canopies resulting in intense fire. What might have been a productive burn providing healthy regeneration – if the forest were managed by means of conservation – is instead made into a destructive conflagration.
Foresters tell us that the practice of “preservation” is responsible for the infernos we have witnessed in California’s forests. They also say that the practice of “preservation” is the reason that New Jersey’s forests are in similar condition to California's. Foresters have the ability to duplicate Mother Nature’s methods of conserving forests by means of selective cutting, controlled burns or other methods but are either restricted by imprudent state procedures or discouraged by the influences of a cadre of misguided Guru Janes.
The next time you find yourself listening to someone opine about environmental problems or reading a sound-byte from your local media “go-to guy,” ask yourself, “What would Mother Nature do to correct the problem?” Look for the answer to square with Mother Nature’s method of conservation. More importantly, our answer to “What would Mother Nature do?” may provide us with an insight and course of action that will lead us to a policy of true environmental stewardship.
Anthony P. Mauro, Sr, (also known as “Ant” to friends and associates) is Chairman and co-founder of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance.
In addition to NJOA, Ant's commitment to the principles of sustainable use of natural resources and stewardship for the environment helped to found the New Jersey Angling & Hunting Conservation Caucus. The NJAHC is the first outdoor caucus of its kind in New Jersey and is designed to educate opinion leaders and policy makers of the principles of conservation and the benefits that confer to the state's wildlife and ecology.
A lifelong resident of New Jersey, Ant is an international big game hunter and avid conservationist. He has authored two books on conservation and hunting, including “Color The Green Movement Blue“.