An ecosystem is natural capital. Soil nutrients and processed waste work hand-in-hand, like vegetable farming and beef production. If we give back to the soil, its possibilities are endless. The most dangerous threat is the fact that if we do not sustain our soil by putting back its nutrients, land will be useless for everything, just like in the Dust Bowl days. Deforestation only begets soil erosion, which relates to activity as well as inactivity, for if we permit the rich topsoil to become airborne, it only becomes useful elsewhere.
Add flood control, climate regulation, and insect pollination, and we have ecosystem services. One reaps what one sows IF the environment is properly handled. This is inclusive of the effects related to conservation, which has been popular since Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw the presidency.
Habitat services and biodiversity led to interactions with other ecosystems to provide goods and services without depleting the natural balance. One can increase the size of an ecosystem by providing nutrients to dead land and watching that natural balance take over the unprofitable land provided that the pH is the same. The pH means how alkaline or acidic the soil is, which determines what grows as a result of its chemistry. A natural system can be created in a plastic tub to grow worms and continue their proliferation simply by providing food and water to a few earthworms from the garden. Heat is generated as a result of natural waste with vegetable matter, like lawn clippings and vegetable peels. Turn the mixture on a weekly basis, and the introduced worms in the purified soil will breed in spring, fed by the necessary nutrients in the castings. Therefore, this self-made ecosystem will continue to proliferate on a larger scale through the balance of the natural ecology, which includes being added to already fertile soil.
This means that crops and wild foods that are native to the area will reproduce with the addition of native trees, along with organic matter (like we just made with the worm castings and the natural fertilizer or garden and lawn waste, minus weeds). Add water with bone meal, oyster, egg or clamshells, and we are looking at multifunctional properties through the addition of these items for growth and propagation.
We then get chemical reactions via the sun, which creates heat, and as we know, a forest or grassland is born depending upon what we originally started with, which will grow and compound itself. In a period of 10 years or less, if the circumstances are right, we have increased the land properties that we seek in the dead soil.
Use hydroponics with these principals to grow oaks, forest fruits, and plants that birds and other wildlife will thrive upon. With new plantings we continue to seed more of the surrounding areas to increase the size of our new fertile land plot.
It is food for thought. Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and professional photographer living in Stillwater.