In 2020 the living planet report published by World Wildlife Fund reported a global organism loss of 68% in 50 years. We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. However, a piece of the solution can be found all around us.
Hi, I'm Archie, I'm an arborist, and today we are going to be talking about improving biodiversity by getting rid of invasive and planting natives, like this guy.
Let's talk about what it means to be native. A native plant is one that has coevolved with its surroundings to become an essential part of the ecosystem. This means that it participates in the complex web of life. It gets fed on and lived in and grows up with the plants around it.
So here we have a native Oak tree, more specifically a Post Oak tree. This tree can host about 550 different caterpillar species and over 400 different moth species. Now, if we are talking about birds, Chickadees will usually take about ten days to go from hatching to their first flight, and in that timeframe, they will eat about 7,000 to 10,000 different larval species mainly provided by native trees, like this Oak here. And if we are talking about Oaks, we have to talk about acorns too. Acorns feed about a hundred different species here in the US. This is like bears, squirrels, birds, ducks, deer, a whole ton of them. And native OakS like this one are a cornerstone to our local environment.
But what about invasives? An invasive is an organism which has been moved from where it has traditionally lived to a new habitat, where it doesn't participate in, and it causes harm to. It doesn't provide shelter; it doesn't provide food for the local wildlife. And there is nothing to stop it from overgrowing. The longer this goes on, the more biodiversity we lose.
So here we have a good example of an invasive species, and some of you might know it. This is called a Bradford Pear. Now Bradford Pears, once they establish, don't take much to become the dominant tree in the landscape. They usually only last 20-25 years because they will break like this guy right here, and once a Bradford pear breaks, it is highly, highly likely it will break again. Now you're probably watching this going: what about all the pretty white flowers? Well, if you want pretty white flowers, you can plant a Serviceberry, a Dogwood, or a Magnolia. These are all native alternatives that feed the ecosystem. Remember about feeding the ecosystem? Remember how many caterpillars are on oaks? Guess how many on are on these Bradford Pears? Two. Please, please don't plant these trees; if you're going to plant a tree, plant natives.
Bringing natives into our local green spaces helps to integrate these spaces into the broader environment. This means providing resources like nuts for squirrels, flowers for bees, or nesting sites for birds. This helps improve and strengthen their populations and makes the surrounding environment more resilient.
Managing invasives and promoting natives is an ongoing process. It all starts with the choices you make at the nursery, which not only impact you but all the living things around you.