The importance of native plants to stable ecosystems is not always well understood among gardeners, land managers, or the public. This is, in part, because for most of the past few centuries it has been an accepted practice for botanists, explorers, and others, to transport plant (and animal) specimens around the globe for ornamental and commercial purposes. Moving species to new continents or distant places was not anticipated as problematic, and only relatively recently have we humans begun to see the sometimes damaging and unintended consequences. Using language as our clue, the use of the term “invasive” to describe either plants or animals dates to the twentieth century. Awareness of the value of native ecosystems to biodiversity is recent. Conservation biology is a young and still emerging science.
Our land use patterns have also changed significantly as development has accelerated in the past few hundred years. No longer do we have large tracts of uninterrupted New England woodlands and meadows, full of indigenous plants and animals living in an ecological balance free of rapid, human-induced changes. But today we have an increasing predominance of land used intensively for human purposes— for housing, commerce, industry and institutions. All of our lands across the state are either intensively developed for these purposes, or impacted by development. Hence, the land management decisions that each of us makes wherever we are— in our home gardens, in public parks, at our institutions and places of business, indeed everywhere— have far more importance to the health of our ecosystem as a whole than they did when our human footprint was much smaller.
This website is intended to serve as an “information portal” for all who garden or manage our lands throughout the Commonwealth— helping us to understand the complexities of managing our ecosystem in its entirety. There are already many good resources that have been compiled on these subjects, but they have not always reached a wide audience. In addition, new information is continually being developed and vetted by scientists and conservationists. We hope you will find this site especially useful. Our intention is:
- To make a compelling case about the importance of native plant landscapes to all of us, and the need for action.
- To bring to your attention the best reference materials that we know on the subject, rather than everything that exists; to include books, articles, and websites that you will find really useful.
- To make this subject accessible and interesting to all citizens and the general reader, without oversimplifying the issue or being inaccurate.
- To present information that advances public understanding about the complexities of healthy gardens and all landscapes— including soil relationships, climate issues, and other factors.
- To motivate you to help control invasive plants and to give you links to the information needed to do so.
- To inspire you to use more native plants— because of their biological importance to all local ecosystems and because of their beauty.
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We also welcome your feedback and suggestions for future site development, materials to be considered for inclusion, and any new or better information. And of course we appreciate any corrections.