Native Versus Exotic Species

I’ve chosen this location because everything you can see behind me, was not here 18 years ago. And I didn’t plant any of it. It planted itself. 18 years ago, this was a pasture. And I decided on this
slope, to leave everything from this ridge tract, that
I created the ridge tract. Well, I kept it clear. Everything from here to the next valley, from this ridge to the next valley all the way from top to bottom, right the way through is Atenor Farm. I was not going to touch it. I was not going to graze it. I was not going to slash it. I could see small trees were coming up. And they were coming
up from a little bit of older growth forest on this side of me. And this is the prevailing wind. So, what’s happened is, a lot of this is native species, but quite a lot of it
is not native species. It’s foreign species from interstate, not just outside of Australia, but Queenslanders, in New South Wales. Queenslanders is a state north of us. North Queenslanders actually. And quite a few, what we
call invasive species, which maybe the salvation
of Earth as Fred Pierce calls them in the great
book, “The New Wild”. So, this is not a native
ecosystem that’s planted itself. It’s a novel ecosystem,
including non-native and native and it, and the wildlife love it. I mean, they’ve been
involved in the process, actually, bringing in seed. So, I’m, this is hands-off for me. I didn’t do this. It did itself. And I love it, actually. I think it’s very beautiful. And um, and the conservationists love it, especially when I went for approval for our new property
shares where we’re dividing the property up into eight shares. We needed to have planted
a few thousand trees to get permission to, um, or allowed a few
thousand trees to grow. And this gave me permission for the development of
that shared property. Um, but, I didn’t actually do it. I allowed nature to do it itself. So this is interesting. So, I’m going to take
a couple of shots here. I’m going to talk here
and I’m going to go to a food forest system that I
definitely planted myself, and show you the difference. So Johanna says, “Watching
course content on how well “established ecosystems work together, “I wonder about introducing
so many new exotic species “to what is already
working so well on its own. “I understand the benefits of
hard working immigrants but “aren’t they missing the allies
and associates that exist “to aid them in their native ecosystem? “Doesn’t tipping the native
ecosystems more out of balance “with more severe changes
break the existing ecosystem “and obscure what we would learn from it? “While there are benefits
to manmade ecosystem, “to a manmade ecosystem, “why not work with natives first? “Do we have responsibility
to use the smallest possible “deviations from the
native ecosystem needed “to achieve our goals?” Well, you possibly could
look at it that way. Um, should there only be, um, indigenous North American
Indians in America? Or are there non-North
American natives welcome? Uh, with all their um, diversity and um, all their um, actual uh, wealth of culture. Are we better off isolating ourselves into our own origins as people? Or is it better to share
knowledge with lots and lots of people working together? That’s how ecosystems work. Do we take the carrots back to Afghanistan where they originated and the tomatoes to the Andes and the potatoes as well and not work with those crops? You know? And the same with our fruit trees. Australia has no native
species that have been domesticated, um, only
the macadamia nut which is native in this area,
but it’s been developed to be um, a very productive nut. But, it performs quite
differently to the native nut, um, and it’s cultivated form
probably wouldn’t survive out in the native system. But that was developed in America, not by people in Australia,
and we grow it here now, as a commercial crop. But there are, there are no food crops, and no animals have been domesticated, no plants have been domesticated in Australia apart from the Macadamia nut. And this landscape has
never had an ice age. So, it’s interesting that
perma culture started here, on the flattest and dryest and oldest, um landscape, continent on this planet. Um, which has never had an ice age, and never domesticated any species much, except for the Macadamia. And we’ve imported more than
any other um, continent, We’ve imported more plants and animals. And we’ve done more
damage with less people over more area in less time
than anybody in history. So, that, those are the facts. But the reality is, we’re
finding that novel ecosystems, which include native and non-native, um, come into a wonderful balance,
and a greater diversity, than often the original ecosystems. Which I’m fully in favor
of, but you can’t, I can’t eat out of here, I might be
able to hunt a few things, but there’s nothing much
I can eat on the ground, there’s nothing much I can
eat out of the trees, um but there’s wildlife in here. I’d have a job to hunt
enough to eat in this area, I’d need a much larger area. But a cultivated area, where
I’ve designed the forest, is full of food, and takes
up very little area at all. But, the birds that are here go to the system that I created as well. They have no prejudice,
they have no assumptions, they don’t have no
preconceived requirements of what nature is, and,
and, how nature works. They work with the novel ecosystems. So, yes we have to be careful
to preserve what we’ve got. But there’s massive areas that, like this, was just pasture, and most of
the grass here was not native. It was pasture grass
brought in to graze cattle. Now, there are a lot of
native grasses moved in here, and some of them are even
rare and endemic to this area. I didn’t do that, they moved themselves into this novel ecosystem
that, that self assembled. Let’s go and have a
look at what our older, oldest food forest looked like,
looks like after 18 years. So you got 18 years of this, let’s just Here is a food forest that we did plant, this was all bare soil,
when we did the earth works for the pond over here, next to the house, this was completely bare,
in fact, the machinery, the bulldozer and excavator
were running across this. We planted our first
assembly of species here, which included an enormous
volume of volunteer work from lots of people, putting in, learning experience, putting
in all the support species. Massive numbers of support species. And they’ve cycled out
of the system, there’s very few of those support species left. And now there’s nearly 20
varieties of fruit tree, they’re all growing well
together as an ecosystem, but there’s only four or five
that are actually native. And, and they’re what we call bush tucker. They’re not fully domesticated yet. There is a Macadamia in here. There are plum pines,
Davidson Plum, peanut tree, they’re native species
that are being developed, and we’re trialing some, we’re getting some pretty good results. There are native timbers here. Um, some are actually
endemic to this area, others come from other parts of Australia. And most of the other fruit trees, all of the other fruit trees, they’re from all over the world,
they’re internationals. And there are international long term support species in here as well. But this system is an ecosystem designed for us, to our benefit. It’s also a nursery, where many little trees germinate on the floor, on the first floor, but they
don’t grow to full height. They’re dwarfated because
all the space is taken up. It’s a complete spacial relationship here. Um, but you can transplant ’em out. Um, we can intensely maintain this, with very little work, one day a year. I keep this in quite intense maintenance. Um, and we can be quite casual. Um, you could do, a
little bit of maintenance every week if you really wanted to. Or you could walk away
from this for 10 years, with no maintenance, just abandon it, and with just one or two people, with sharp, sharp tools, could bring this into maintenance in one day. I mean, one acre, one
day, with no more than two people and sharp tools, and we’d just take the stretch out of
it, and pull it back down, as chop and drop to the
ground, and support the system back into a flush of, of extra production. So, the wildlife love it. They’ve no problem. They have, they have no prejudice about that ecosysytem or this ecosystem. Um, people love it. They feel it, like it’s
like the Garden of Eden. Um, we can, we can have
these systems anywhere, we can have combinations like this. And, um, and, and the ecosystem
function is probably higher here than it is in the
one that planted itself. Um, but it’s definitely better for people, and it’s a wonderful classroom. It’s a wonderful place where
so many people have learned what it’s like to be inside
one of these and feel the the, that productive energy of the system.

Comments 32

  • to johanna. The newest ecological theory on this is based on the idea of ecological fitting, which describes how ecosystems are defined by species that best 'fit together'. As long as there are ecological niches to fill, nature will balance itself out through darwins theory of evolution. Evolution is best described by the theory of natural selection of course, which states that ecosystems are in constant flux fighting in competition and ecosystem changes, climate pressures and sexual selection, predation etc allow those who are best fit to survive…. survive and pass on their genes, etc. etc. this allow novel invasives to occupy niches that are left blank by habitat destruction or because other species cannot compete. There is no final succession, nature is always changing. This is shown in ecosystems across the world, who are losing species, but gaining new ones and ecosystems are shifting and continuing unsless disturbed by human activity. Anyhow like Geoff said this is best described in fred pearce's work a new wild

  • You mentioned, "novel ecosystem thinking", recently, regarding a comment I made about cane toads helping to control the mosquito population. This explanation of novel ecosystems, helped me to understand your reference, more specifically. Thanks for that. I also enjoyed seeing your native landscape. It reminds me of my backyard, only ours is not quite as lush. We get less rainfall. But there is a special energy, when nature plants herself. I appreciate how it can only add more, to the domesticated areas of food production.

  • Agree with every ecological points made here, Thanks Geoff.
    The comparison with Native Indians in North America and alien Europeans is a poor one, though.
    Outside of islands, invasive plants tend to fix – on the long run – previous damages made on the ecosystem. All "invaded" ecosystems were previously affected by environmental destruction.
    Europeans arrived in Americas in healthy ecosystems and human communities, and committed systemic destruction, genocide. And the natives didn't, and will never "love it".
    The persistence of the invaders culture as it is will means the destruction of the whole nature and native's culture.
    So, very different scenario here.

  • glad to hear you offer some balance to the native at the exclusion of novel more edible ecosystems discussion……….so true too, the wildlife loves my backyard food forest. It's universally ignored by most that keeping only or mostly native species in human zones only forces us to execute industrial ag elsewhere, out of view of the locale of the observer and in the end use way more energy and habitat destruction. This is a way too common misconception of the larger system machinations at play.

  • Thanks for the info

  • Hmmm, so if you are in a desert and with earthworks conserve water, other species will thrive, and take space and resources. Is it a good thing than to try and green a desert ? In my opinion it is. What is native other than a species that found a good soil and climate, so if you do anything, species will follow. Might take millions of years, but eventually they most probably will.
    Just my 2c
    Cheers !

  • Good arguments & points, Geoff…I tend to generally favor "natives," as ambiguous as the term can be, but your arguments are sound and give some credence and comfort to the change. Even in the classic, top selling native plant book, "Bringing Nature Home," Professor Doug Tallamy opines for an eventual balance…

  • This was a fascinating video full of insightful facts and insightful comments I hadn't heard before. Is there a rule of thumb about what percentage of novel landscape versus cultivated?

  • Very poor choice of words about the so-called """"indians"""" from North America, that was totally out of place! And just for the record, geographically, North America includes Mexico and Cuba too. And that the arrival of the oh, so wealthy culture of the old continent ""enriched"" the indigenous Americans and native ecosystems by destroying them in many ways, not only that, but they also turned large portions of fertile American land in to desert by substituting the native Americans ways of cultivating crops like chinampa, milpa, three sisters, swales, composting, ancient permaculture, etc with the "classic" way of agriculture of the m. east. And should know better that certain species of trees attract certain species of birds and insects, foreign species of vegetation disrupt that cycle in many ways to list them here. Also, I don't know if he's aware that in America (and when I say America of course I mean a continent, from Argentina to Alaska) there are a lots of problems with several introduced species of animals and vegetation, just to name one, just one… The sparrows!!! Which were introduce by English men to ""enrich"" the native American landscapes and right now sparrows are a huge problem in all America by displacing hundreds and hundreds of native bird species and sparrows are totally thriving on those 'novel forests' of foreign trees, very few native species of insects, birds and other animals benefit of those oh, so good ""novel ecosystems"".

    This is constructive criticism, Mr. Geoff. I appreciate your work, but there are points in this video which need a better approach.

  • You should mention that Permaculture requires design, which means that those non-native species are calculated into the system, not just added. If you have large areas without a current working ecosystem, and you introduce only one plant, which is capable of filling a local niche, and working towards succession, it will take over. If you introduce a number of plants all designed to work together, no one will dominate. Thanks as always.

  • The invasive whites weed – sadly – ("of which I'm one -" not too proud") – (the most invasive species) ever to proliferate itself on the face of the earth – with its overtaking proud superiority way – of territory dominating power – thanks to its superiorly succesful self-fertilizing inventions such as the fellow species domination method – the very successful money + big government method of self propagation which allows it too quickly gain a strong root system in whatever portion of Earth that places itself to dominate in..
    Yes indeed the fellow species enslavement method utilizing the fertilizer shit called money what's the best ever trick for self propagation. And "its military like-d methods" the best Eliminator of competition species ever adapted – save a few specimens for further study.
    And that will educated in plant eat Plant World of higher education – to make sure – survival of the fittest – survives…

  • Since any analogy goes, I've got one. Next time a pushy or aggressive person walks into your house and demands to live there, you must let them. Because that's what plants do.

  • "should america be only for native americans or are non natives welcome with all there ahhhhh" hahaha well.. it depends if the exotic plants are going to opress the native trees and not let them live on there own land like the non native americans and australians do i suppose, could end up like tasmania and completly whipe out all of the natives.. but really im native growing fruit so i believe in mixing in exotics into native forest, i jst dont like the way you said it lol maybe YOU with your line of work would be welcome.. but really who else would be lol ofcourse non native americans arent welcome to the natives they opress and thats the point, if the foreign plants can respect the natives and leave them alone and only help them then theyd be welcome ha depends if they like sharing or if they just wanna take over and cause extinction kinda like the english ivy 😉

  • Looks like he is working with 100% Native Species to planet earth.

  • Such a great video on a topic that has been top of mind lately

  • Although the native animals tend to like the exotic fruits and plants more than native ones

  • Not that you'll read this and just my uninformed opinion – what we consider "native" is just in our miniscule timeframe. I bet if you extend time long enough where tectonic plates shift together, plants and wildlife would also migrate due to proximity changes. it's simply evolution. humans have only "sped" up the process because we figured out how to move ourselves and nature extremely far and fast. but, hey, aren't us humans part of nature? are we not part of the ecosystems? what I'm trying to say is, nature finds a way and lots of things hitchhiked with us humans and we all adapt to each area. I really don't think "invasive" is the right term. it's just a plant or animal that has genes that allow it to do what we all do… replicate and feed in their new environment. and that may just save certain environments, mainly reviving the soil and even bring back "native" species that would otherwise die out.

  • that was a horrible take on imperialism

  • It is crazy impressive how much the land has changed in 18 years.

  • Sending you love Geoff thanks for your work!

  • In this video, Geoff speaks off the cuff based on a student question, and demolishes plant nativism. Are only native North Americans welcome in North America?

  • The novel ecosystem debate is always a hot one. I do believe we need to end our war on invasive species. First, the poisons we use in this fight are worse in their impact than the invasives. Second, the invasives are becoming new species and generating new species out of the native species interacting with them. So we need to calm down and get our heads around what exactly is going on, rather than reaching for the war metaphor at the drop of a hat.
    That said we need to be cognizant of the needs of native biota in our designs. Doug Tallamy, an American entomology professor and native plant advocate, is a great source of information and inspiration. His angle of thinking is one that should incorperated in our designs.

  • I notice that you are fond of using Leucaena as a pioneer tree/bush and as mulch. Being in Arizona, it tends to grow well here. As far as I can tell there are no thorns (a rarity here!) and it is, of course, a legume so it helps fix nitrogen. I've read it is allelopathic, is this true? Do you not worry about it suppressing other plants' growth? I'm not worried as a mulch because I'd compost it and that breaks it down but if I left it as leaf litter or even growing in certain spots I wonder if it'll affect my other plants?

  • 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

  • 3:09 if only there actually were egalitarian exchange of culture in NA and not colonialism towards the natives…

  • There should only be native Americans here. The Americans who took over are far too evasive. Culture and art have been consumed by commercialism.

  • Bill used to call those who only want to grow natives Ecological Fascists . Seems in the comments section there is a few of them . And to them listen to what he is saying . The planet is in a terrible state . Growing loads of biomass can actually fix many of the issues with pollution. It’s something that isn’t talked about, they’re more interested in selling us electric cars instead of simple solutions that Geoff and his team have been teaching us for decades . Thanks Geoff .. really appreciate your hard work . Respect

  • My problem is fast spreading plants overtaking everything else. Might balance out in 10 or 20 years, but when working to produce food now, invasives (regardless of where they came from) are a real challenge.

  • I actually don't think there should be native Americans in north america. We spend millions upon milions each year taking care of them n offering benefits us Americans don't get and most are not only racist against white people but in my personal experience have shown on the majority to be hateful backstabbing drunk pieces of shit… snswer ur question yes…they should stay on their reservations with their innumerable benefits that i help fund with my taxes

  • I plan to use black locust, leucaena and eucalyptus as pioneer trees to establish a food forest in a rather arid region of turkey where there is no ground cover at all. These three species are all non-native to eurasia and so i wonder wether i could use them without harming the environment more than helping it… Also there is kudzu, probably the worst invasive weed i can imagine, do the things you said also apply for these extreme cases? I would never ever plant it but it is also a great nitrogen fixer, just saying

  • 🙏💖 I resonate! Native vs Naturalized. Only difference is whether they were there before the observer or after! 🤣

  • I so enjoy the book The New wild your the first person I've heard speak of his studys. Nature has her way and as my spiritual teacher reminds me, Life Happens.. so enjoy your Q&A Thank You.

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