Cretinous literary endeavours.
Thu, 24 Feb 2011 16:55:02 PST
     I don't have the entire article, but from what I surmise from the comments thus far, it sounds like another attack on those of us who like to grow interesting plants and who actually care about their continued survival.  More important, from a conservation point of view, it makes no sense.  Evolution is not static, gene pools constantly shift, and if anything the world has been very unstable in the last few million years--who knows how many plant species were wiped out by the repeated Pleistocene glaciations onm the northern hemisphere.  Now that humans are here, there is no going back, rather we need to think 
about doing our best to preserve what diversity is left, and that means growing them, setting up seedbanks, and in some cases moving species in response to/ianticipation of global climate change.  An argument could also be made that while there may be short term, human induced, extinctions, the movement of plants to new areas may actually enhance biodiversity in the far future (assuming we manage not to wreck the planet first).  
     A Lilium species collection in the UK indeed may save some species, as I imagine the rampant ecological destruction in Tibet, western/southwestern China, Burma, and much of the rest of himalayan region (except perhaps Bhutan) might very well drive some species of lilium to extinction. Such efforts are both necessary and commendable.  Though perhaps occasionally common to the point of pesky in their new home, Gladiolus caryophyllaceus and Morea aristata are far safer from extinction in Australia than in their native South Africa.  Deppea splendens survives only in cultivation, if Dr. Breedlove had not been able to bring back live material to the US from Mexico at the time, this magnificent shrub would be gone.  Clearly humans are not going to disappear or even voluntarily reduce their excessive numbers, so there can be no real preservation of a status quo.  Our world ecosystems are constantly, and it seems with increasing speed, changing due to our activities that is not beneficial for the survival of many other plants and animals. 
     In the end, there is no perfect solution, and steps need to be taken by interested and informed individuals, who can make a small difference in our too short lifetimes.  Relying on goverments that are hard pressed by other concerns to protect plants with limited geographic ranges is bound to fail in the long term, as funding for such programs will invariably be cut in reponse to economic constraints. In areas of the world where biodiversity, population growth, and poverty are all high, there is no real effort to protect rare plants, so limiting their movement only seals their sad fate. 
     Having a doctorate myself, I can only imagine that the authors of this article must possess a very narrow fact base in their actual knowledge of rare plants. Its a common problem in academia, where the intense focus on the tree obscures the view of the forest.  I wonder, could they actually grow a rare plant, and do they have years of practical experience observing plant communities in various areas (not just the one field/species/ecosystem or whatever they studied for their doctorates).
     Just some of my thoughts on this complex issue, plus I have to admit, I really liked the phrase "cretinous literary endeavours".  I'll have to remember that one next time I'm grading a student essay.
                Ernie DeMarie
                Tuckahoe, NY Z6/7  where a lone crocus is blooming in my school garden, along with the first eranthis.  

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