Tag Archives: ecology

Non-native invader spread by unnatural bird sex shock horror!

I’m sorry, this isn’t really a post about unnatural bird sex, it’s about mycology in general and truffles in particular. But, there is a non-nativist ecological link, and the bird sex provides a pertinent example. I return to this a bit later on.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a worldclass lecture on mycology right here in Braidwood as part of the inaugural “Truffle Time in the ‘Wood” festival. The presenters were Professor James Trappe, Dr Andrew Claridge and Todd Elliott. What follows is principally my recollection of the information presented by these three engaging speakers. The festival as a whole involved too many folks to mention individually in this post, but see below for a summary of participants and contributors.*

I’m not a mycologist, but I’d always thought I had a workable understanding of the ecology of fungi, they’re the decomposers of our ecosystems, right? They breakdown dead bodies and wastes and release various nutrients back into ecological circulation. Apart from the odd fruiting body, they’re hard to spot, mostly underground; very much out of sight and out of mind.

I now realise, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about fungi, and there’s a lot going on that’s worth considering. Continue reading

Awesome interview with Tao Orion, author of ‘Beyond the War on Invasive Species: a Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration’

Tao Orion is the author of new book available from Chelsea Green Publishing, titled ‘Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration‘. The book is available to order from the publisher here.

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I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to getting my own copy. I’m writing this brief post to highlight an awesome interview with Tao Orion that is available here on the Organic Consumers Association website.

In just this brief interview, Tao provides a very insightful read and I’d urge everyone with an interest in the future to have a look.

I’ve included three short excerpts here to tempt you:

The “ethical corruption” that Holmgren describes is the dangerous trend in the science of invasion and restoration ecology to narrowly focus on restoration as a practice of attempting to return certain ecosystems to an idealized former state. This concept paints invasive and novel organisms as disruptive to ecosystems, and tends to miss the bigger picture of how ecosystems have changed and are constantly changing in response to human and non-human impacts upon them. That large conservation and restoration organizations like The Nature Conservancy are allied with pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto, which have essentially manufactured the war on invasive species for their own financial benefit, is something that we have to think about very closely. This approach for managing species invasions does little to restore ecological functionality, especially on a larger scale.” –Tao Orion

Invasive species don’t have special powers and aren’t inherently malignant. From an ecological perspective, they are exploiting available niches. This is one of the main reasons that eradication doesn’t work – because unless the niches are changed in ways that encourage native or other desired species to flourish, eradicating invasive species achieves no measurable ecological benefit.” –Tao Orion

When you see an invasive species, instead of automatically thinking of its ‘negative’ qualities, think about what it is doing in the ecosystem where it is found. Do pollinators use it? Is it controlling erosion? Start thinking less in terms of the organism and more in terms of the ecosystem that supports it. What has changed in recent history that may contribute to the proliferation of invasive species? Critical to this understanding is an acknowledgement of how indigenous land management shaped and structured ecosystems—including plant and animal population diversity and abundance—and that lack of this management has facilitated invasion processes even in areas considered ‘natural’ or ‘wild.’ Invasive species are directly related to changes in land management, from highly degraded to ecosystems to seemingly ‘pristine’ areas, and learning more about the cultural history of ecosystem management is critical to seeing invasion processes as a predictable outcome of the type and scale of these changes.” –Tao Orion

Read more here.

Open letter to Dr Tim Flannery

Ever since he watched the ABC TV series ‘Two Men in a Tinny’, in which celebrated scientist and author Dr Tim Flannery and comedian John Doyle advocated for nation-wide willow eradication, Peter Marshall has been trying persistently to contact  Dr Flannery to canvass an alternative approach.

Recently, Peter was delighted to receive a reply from Dr Flannery along with a request for further information. Dr Flannery said he’d be interested to learn about Peter’s work and asked if the willows are ever removed after they’ve done their job holding banks together.

Peter CC’d me into his reply and invited me to respond with an outline of what Non-Nativist Landcare is about and what we’re hoping to achieve. After some encouragement, I’m posting my response here for others to consider. We’re yet to receive further correspondence from Dr Flannery who is undoubtedly a very busy individual, but we live in hope he has read what we sent, and will consider it.

What follows is a simple cut and paste of my email, sent to Dr Flannery and Peter Marshall. I know it’s lengthy and might be a bit heavy, but I wasn’t going to waste time on small talk.



Thanks for your kind introduction Peter. Sorry to be so slow to respond, I have had a number of pressing tasks to complete recently.

Dr Flannery, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write to you. Peter has asked that I outline our thinking and operations (quite a task). I will try to keep what I have to say relatively brief, though this will be difficult.

My educational background is a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Ecological Agriculture’ from CSU. I have since completed a B.Sci(Hons) year looking at natural repair processes within incised swampy meadows. I’m currently pursuing further study at ANU in biological anthropology.​ ​In approaching agriculture from an ecological perspective​ we learn to take a functional approach to agroecosystems and to ourselves (as humans) and our place in this biosphere. It’s odd, but for many people, the word ‘ecological’ simply means ‘natural’; ​so ​agriculture and humans are ​believed to exist somehow​ ​outside of, or beyond, ecological processes. This is clearly not the reality of our situation ​here ​on Earth, as you have expertly documented​​ (several times). Continue reading

Australian landscapes: Mary White’s contribution towards our understanding of them.

The Flood Creek Non-Nativist Landcare Group blog is a collaborative effort. We’re happy to publish your contributions as part of this Landcare Network discussion. See the collaborate-contribute page for a range of topic suggestions or get in touch to discuss your idea.

The following is a new post from Mr. Colin Samundsett. Colin was raised on the Atherton Tablelands and became a surveyor by trade, but also cultivated an expertise in rainforest structure and species. A nursery man and tree planter by avocation, also a wood turner and expert with axe, adze and scarfing hoe. Here Colin introduces and reviews an important series of books produced over several years by Australian Paleobotanist and author Mary White.



 Australian landscapes:

Mary White’s contribution towards  our understanding of them.

By Colin Samundsett

Australia’s first wave of immigrants, their descendants and those supplementing them, wrestled with turbulent changes for 50 or 60 millennia. What the first European immigrants saw on their arrival was a between-rounds pause, the last, in an enduring bout with those changes. It was a time of remarkable adjustment between the landscape and the Europeans’ predecessors. But, the continent’s fundamental geology and geomorphology remained unchanged.

Scottish migrant Peter Dodds McCormick, Sydney resident for 23 years, believed he had enough knowledge of his new country to pen a song about it: his Advance Australia Fair’s first public delivery in 1878 declared “…For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share…”. Well, we’re sharing it with 21 million more than he was then; and there’ll be another million in four years from now. But, do we really understand just what we are sharing?

We have learned much about this land since 1878, and Paleobotanist Mary White has synthetised it admirably. She provides a wealth of information on how it is, and how it came to be; all in very readable style with five books. Continue reading

The Crucial Roles of Willows in Sustainable River Management

This post really requires a drum role or fanfare.

With permission, I am posting a scanned copy of ‘The Crucial Role of Willows in Sustainable River Management’, by Professor Haikai Tane. I will also lodge this in our useful publications page.

Click on the image below to download the PDF.

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This is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to explore the reality of willows within an ecological-thinking perspective (as opposed to a reductively-compartmentalised nativist one). The research presented is mainly based on a New Zealand environmental context, but there are obvious parallels with the Australian situation. There is ample food for thought for Landcarers here. Continue reading