Federal and local government spending on invasive flora and fauna amounts to almost $3 billion annually. That’s over three times the $830 million in actual damages caused by these non-natives. As the battle against invasive species mounts, PERC Enviropreneur Institute alum Paul Schwennesen, asks, “might our fascination with biotic menace be somewhat overblown?”
As a rancher in the Southwest, Schwennesen has seen his fair share of invasive species. Instead of upsetting the “delicate” natural balance of his land, however, he argues the Salt Cedar and Buffelgrass, amongst other non-natives, are a part of a fluid and dynamic equilibrium defined by competing and cooperating species.
Schwennesen notes that the helicopter-borne chemical raids employed to fight the intruders may be worse than the disease and calls for a reevaluation of nature’s natural processes:
Ralph Waldo Emerson famously declared weeds to be “plants whose virtues had yet to be discovered.” I have to agree. The frantic hand-wringing that accompanies most descriptions of “invasives” betrays a glaring lack of faith in the resilience of our natural world. More to point, perhaps, is the curiously rare recognition that life, in its perennial pursuit to fill vacuums, generally creates abundance and profusion. Attempts to artificially prevent this usually cost more than the supposed damage to be mitigated.