James' observations re plant regulation

lou jost loujost@yahoo.com
Sun, 26 Jul 2009 10:24:21 PDT
Dear all, 
  I have not seen the Nature Conservancy's position paper, but they are a very conservative group. I think we are letting our love for cultivating plants cloud our judgement on this issue. The buckthorn that carpets our former prairie fragments in the midwest, the kudzu vine in the southeast, and many other massively invasive weeds are capable of making whole ecosystems disappear. In my country, African grasses are spreading over arid habitats, forming meter-thick carpets of leaves that clamber over all native plants, causing the local extinctions of rare endemic amaryllids and orchids and others. I admit that it is very difficult to foresee which species will become invasive, and which will not. But if the burden of proof was on those scientists who wanted to prohibit entry of Species X, I think this regulation  is completely reasonable. Its negative effects would be very small, since almost everything we are interested in is already in cultivation
 here, and most new introductions of interest to us would have no track record of invasive behavior in otherparts of the world. 
  Rather than opposing this legislation, I would suggest we take a less selfish approach and support it, insisting that the burden of proof be on the side of those who want to list a species as prohibited. 
I understand many of us might disagree with me, and I respect those positions, but I hope that all of us try to think this through objectively, without letting our love of gardening blind us to the fact that this regulation can protect the native ecosystems (and their geophytes) that we also love. 
Lou Jost


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