Dr. Marcus Collier at TEDxUCD
Our TURAS project coordinator Dr. Marcus Collier gave a TEDxUCD talk in December 2015 on Novel Ecosystems.
Beginning his talk by introducing us to the contended human created geological era, the so called Anthropocene, Collier discussed social ecological systems thinking and how we humans are presently shaping our planet, effecting environmental processes, such as the carbon cycle, the water cycle and cycles of biodiversity.
Novel ecosystems are those ecosystems so radically altered, directly or indirectly by humans that they will never recover to where they were before. They are very diverse. Some have mapped them as covering 30% of the Earth, though there are probably everywhere, we often see them in cities. Anywhere that nature gets the chance to recover from disturbance, filling in the void with a mosaic of native and escapee species from around the globe. So, therein lies a danger of novel ecosystems theory. If natural resources can be pulled from the earth leaving a void, an argument can be made that there is no need to engage in restorative work, because left alone a novel ecosystem will emerge. What’s a restoration ecologist to do?
Collier ends by pointing out two reasons why novel ecosystems interest him. For one thing we don’t know much about them, for another, they are the most likely place that many urban dwellers can experience ‘wild’.
In this point of time when our effect on the earth is seen, having access to a novel ecosystem offers opportunity for society to redress and recover a part of ourselves that has separated itself from nature, that has been lost over the last couple of hundred of years, ironically these ecosystems can be found in the very locations we have damaged the most.
I think, out of the TEDxUCD talk recognising values held within novel ecosystems, and the value of nature led design, are important principles inherent in some of our TURAS solutions. particularly within our Green Infrastructure family. It is an interesting question to me: will we as a human species, knowing something of the value of allowing novel ecosystems to emerge, allow them to do so? Should we consider in the re-using spaces that nature is re-using them and that we should permit that?
Dr. Marcus Collier delivering his TEDxUCD talk
Novel Ecosystem, Offaly. (Image Dr. Marcus Collier)
Novel Ecosystem on Bridgefoot Street observation site (Image: Roisin Byrne)