Protecting Oregon’s Biodiversity!
By j. a.
Oregon’s native plants and trees have become a major focus for
me as we have worked within our forest over the years. It is with amazement that
I watch each Spring as new growth sprouts up through the forest floor. There
have been times that I have worried that we have been overzealous in our thinning program as we attempt to improve the health
of our forest. But Nature has imprinted a pattern of the compliment of species necessary for the cycle of life within each
area, and this pattern seems bent on recreating itself despite disturbance. As long as we do not decimate the landform, causing
erosion that washes away seed and soil, the biodiversity of an area seems to not be lost.
Nature is very resilient.
However, it has become my urgent desire to do my part to help maintain the native biodiversity of Oregon’s forests. Where mass quantities
of wilding seedlings of various species of shrubs and trees occur on our forest farm, I collect some and place them in my
little nursery. There they are nurtured through cold winters and scorching summers, for a couple of years, in order to grow
strong roots. They can then be outplanted into areas here on our land where these species are sparse or nonexistent, or sent
with other people who want to add to their land’s biodiversity. Biodiversity
of native plants/trees is necessary to provide homes and food for wildlife as well as to maintain the balance and health of
our forested ecosystems.
In order to understand the interrelationships between species, it has been necessary to identify these trees and
shrubs- and what an enormous project this has become! It began by taking samples
of leaves & stems of the more common plants and photos of the more rare ones, then trying to identify them with reference
books- or more recently, with online databases. After a while, I realized that
I needed to limit myself in cataloging them because their numbers had become so large, so I decided to stick with angiosperms,
or flowering plants, which I could photograph and more easily identify. The most reasonable method of organization seemed to be through separating them into
their plant families. Amazingly, it seems that nearly every plant family of the North American continent is represented right
here on our forest farm.
Many hours are spent tramping through the forest in the cold, wet, rainy days of early Spring in order to locate
plants as they begin to push their heads up through the humus. Then I can revisit them every few days to watch their growth.
I feel like an expectant mother as I await their beautiful blossoms. Often they are so fleeting, that I miss the perfect photo
and have to wait another year to try again. Each distinctive ecosystem on our forest farm contains its own separate complement
of species, and each species requires a specific habitat and has its own characteristic growth patterns. I expend a great deal of time reading about native plants and trees so that I know what they require for
optimum growth conditions, what time of year they leaf out and when they blossom.
Then I spend even more time out in the woods finding them during the season when
they are most visible. Many people think I am a little bit crazy to spend my
time in this endeavor, but that’s okay, I do not require their approval and I like the solitude.
You gain an enormous respect for Nature when you think about the incredible amount of information and the life force she contains in order to reproduce such variety and beauty throughout the eons. It
makes you feel very small and insignificant when you realize that humans are only one of these many complex life forms and
that life goes on quite well without mankind at all. This Earth’s forests are literally the Garden of Eden, capable
of providing man with everything that he needs for his survival and comfort. It is our responsibility to ensure that we help
to protect her biodiversity. So my work continues.