According to a recent symposium of Landscape Designers and Architects (link below), water is the critical issue facing humanity. Water resources are becoming increasingly burdened, with high population growth, water shortages and changing climate. I would also add that soil is paramount as well. We have lost much of our topsoil already, and water and wind erosion contribute greatly to our loss; however, soil loss and water run-off is really about our (human) practices. This, we can change.
Each of us must learn about water resources and make some changes: in how we use water and, in what water-intensive resources we use. We must also teach our children – well. Begin to implement small changes at home – by collecting rainwater for watering gardens and by using permaculture techniques, which protect water and soil. Educate ourselves about the manufactured products we use, the amount of water and chemicals inherent in their production. Opt for recycling and upcycling wherever possible. Choose wisely.
If you live on some wooded acreage, allow leaf mulch to collect and leave some standing dead wood and some fallen wood on the ground. This is good for the decomposers, birds and mammals, and erosion control. If you graze animals, please use good stewardship practices, such as grass finishing and pasture-rotation. Try to grow native too!
Keep in mind entire systems – how everything works together. I like to think – how would Nature do it? Truthfully, if we do nothing, nature will take care of itself. However, we like our veggie gardens, shrubs and flower beds, as well as pathways that are not only aesthetically pleasing but that serve a purpose – allowing us to walk unimpeded by ticks, chiggers and snakes (at least, here in the country!).
We now also need to remove invasive species of plants in order to help our natives survive and thrive , which includes some selective harvesting of trees. My treehugging soul has fought admitting this for many years, and I still prefer to err on the side of keeping the trees and weeds as much as possible! Thankfully, Rex is patient with my process, always balancing our ethic of helping the earth with our ethic of “do no harm”. 🙂 Go here to see our Rogue’s Gallery of invasive plants.
I would also suggest that big yards should be a thing of the past, opting for encouraging our vital pollinators with native – and sometimes ornamental – flowers and grasses, and importantly, for growing some of our own food plus a little extra. After all, more than six billion people rely on food grown on about 11% of the global land surface! (from National Geographic “Our Good Earth”, September 2008). Why not be a little independent of the box stores by growing our own greens? Of course, try to buy at your local farmer’s market or small local stores when necessary.
U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The history of every nation is eventually written in the way in which it cares for its soil”. And Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1746, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water”.
Let us all determine ourselves to be part of the solution – for the water, for the soil, for ourselves and for each other.
For more information on the water resource symposium, read up on it in The Dirt. http://dirt.asla.org/2013/04/24/what-is-the-most-critical-issue-designers-dont-even-know-exists/#like-13588.