Luke McGuff (holyoutlaw) wrote,
Luke McGuff

Why do I like restoration work? Why do I do it?

By “restoration work” I mean working in a park or urban forest to remove invasive plants and restore native diversity. Restoration work can also include erosion control, adding trails, improving stream banks, and more.

One of the most directly positive things about restoration work, for me, is that you can see the results. When you put a survival ring on an ivy-infested tree, you can see the results. When you clear an area of blackberry, the difference is immediately noticeable. And you can see how the work changes over time. Ivy and blackberry shade out native seeds that are waiting for a chance to sprout — I’ve seen plenty of cleared places sprout with native plants with no further attention. And, yes, sometimes it’s bindweed that comes up under the ivy.

But there are other benefits. I joke about restoration work being “cheaper and better smelling than a gym.” But really… it is. It can be as physically demanding as you want it to be, it’s sustained over two or three hours, and it uses a wide variety of muscles. And since you’re usually working in a forest, you’re working in a highly oxygenated environment, so it has cardio benefits as well.

Restoration work also helps build a sense of place and connectedness. Removing ivy from a tree in a park changes how you look at ivy in someone’s yard or garden. The survival ring helps not only the tree, but the birds who will nest in it in five or ten years (if nothing else happens to the tree). Clearing the ground of an ivy monoculture will make good space for the shrubs and groundcover that will be planted later. And that will make more pretty flowers for human (and bumblebees) and more fruit for the birds. You also look at parks differently, the signs of restoration work are more visible.

There’s also a visceral satisfaction to putting a survival ring around a tree, and then seeing the ivy wither and die. If the ivy had crowned the tree, it would have gotten enough energy from the sunlight to set fruit, which birds would have eaten, and then spread the seeds. So you’re helping to slow the seed rain from ivy with all the trees you put a survival ring on.

Perhaps the most important aspect of restoration work that I like is that shared work is one of my favorite ways of socializing. It’s just easier for me to get to know people when sharing a task with them.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

Tags: commentary, why

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