Indigenous Gardening and the Environment
Our advancing world is great. We’ve built all this infrastructure through urbanization and have advanced in technology. We are constantly finding quicker means to accessing food, however, it came at a very high cost. Modern civilization has led to issues such as droughts, loss of natural habits, an increase in the use of chemicals and a disconnect with nature.
Over the years, the functions of our ecosystems have been drastically changed. With the help of our Capitalist driven society, all over the world indigenous plants have been gradually replaced with exotic plants and lawns, based on people’s perceptions and the desire for exotic appeal. What we fail to understand is that nature on its own is perfectly balanced; plants that grow in particular regions are intended for those regions. When we apply pesticides, introduce different variations of soils etc. to change the environment for plants we prefer, we are destroying the environment.
Naturally established plants
Indigenous plants are plants that have naturally established themselves in their environments. The benefits which they provide in a landscape that is meant for them are remarkable. Because indigenous plants belong in particular environments, they will naturally be part of an ecosystem, attracting wildlife ranging from birds, bees and insects. Indigenous trees are capable of not only providing food but larger habitats then exotic trees for fauna to live.
A majority of insects work based on specialization. Such as caterpillars who only consume food from specific indigenous Fiona. When we remove these to replace them with exotic plants, we are putting specific Fauna in line to becoming extinct. Once more allowing this ecological system to exist means less use of pesticides which kill over 90% of insects considered not harmful to plants.
Introducing indigenous planting also means variety. Yes how often do you see that these days? Biodiversity is best maintained when we add variety to landscapes. This Also maintains the health of your indigenous garden. For when we practice companion gardening, we use the natural benefits of other plants to keep a healthy balance in the landscape. This however is hard to accomplish with exotic plants as they tend to restrict the growth of other plants around them through consuming large quantities of water and nutrients.
Water wise gardening
Yes exotic plants consume more water and use up a lot of soil nutrients. Cape Town is going through a drought that has everyone on water restrictions. Why not opt for indigenous plants that have deeper root system, require less water once established. Because exotic plants use up a lot soil nutrients, this generally means more application of fertilizers. This leads to issues such as eutrophication. This also kills indigenous plants around them because the soil is no longer in its natural state for indigenous plants to survive.
Once more, as a civilization, do we not want a less polluted environment with fresh air to breathe in? By using indigenous plants we are cutting down on the use of mechanical tools generally used in the over maintenance of exotic plants and lawns, these lead to CO2 emissions that contribute to issues such as acid rain. Not to mention Indigenous plants consume so much more CO2 and produce oxygen.