Reviewed by John C. Krieg
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy is a work that is indeed full of hope. We of the species Homo sapiens have failed abysmally in our efforts to preserve nature and are now in the position where we will either have to restore it or learn to live without it. What an irony of all ironies that the species most responsible for planetary devastation is now the only species that can possibly reverse that trend. About the only ray of light that shines on this seemingly impossible task is that in saving the other creatures of the earth we also serve to save ourselves.
Tallamy, a professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology has produced a manifesto for advancing the cause of nature here at the doorstep of the New Millennium’s third decade. He promotes a simple concept, really; that being that if we want the job done, then we will have to do it ourselves. In other words, if we want nature as we currently know it to survive, then we are going to have to lend our own backyards towards that goal. The notion of taking the country back one yard at a time is nothing new. It started back in 1973 with the National Wildlife Federation’s program to encourage homeowners to get their backyards certified as Wildlife Friendly. Just about anyone who cared to notice could see that wildlife could be helped along by a caring human hand, but very few of us actually understood the dynamics of why.
Tallamy unlocks that mystery. First is the ongoing realization that mankind’s current preservation efforts do not go nearly far enough. Second is the explanation that much more acreage than what was previously thought necessary is necessary to create what he refers to as, “Homegrown National Park.” And third, are the detailed revelations that as a practicing landscape architect for over forty years I was entirely unaware of. Specifically, the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom evolved together over eons and developed nuanced symbiotic relationships between one another that mankind has laid riven with introductions of non-native and invasive species. Culprit number one being the sprawling bourgeois suburban lawn that denies habitat to a vast array of species.
Nature’s best hope is that we not only stop the damage but make an earnest attempt to reverse it. In other words, the more mankind tries to tweak mother nature, the more she comes right back around to prove to us that she had a better plan all along. The only problem is that we have interrupted her plan to such an extent that unless immediate and drastic measures are taken, it may be too late. But, I for one prefer eternal optimism over pessimism that always leads to apathy and inaction. This book is the light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. Buy it, adhere to its advice, and reap the rewards, if not for yourself, then for your grandchildren.
About John C. Krieg
John C. Krieg is a retired landscape architect and land planner who formerly practiced in Arizona, California, and Nevada. He is also retired as an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist. John currently holds seven active categories of California state contracting licenses, including the highest category of Class A General Engineering. He has written a college textbook entitled Desert Landscape Architecture (1999, CRCPress). John has had pieces published in A Gathering of the Tribes, AlternatingCurrent, Blue Mountain Review, Clark Street Review, Conceit, Homestead Review, IndolentBooks, Line Rider Press, LOL Comedy, Lucky Jefferson, Magazine of History and Fiction, Oddball Magazine, Palm Springs Life, Pandemonium, Pegasus, Pen and Pendulum, Saint Ann’s Review, Squawk Back, The Courtship of Winds, TheMindful Word, The Scriblerus, The Writing Disorder, Twist & Twain, and Wilderness HouseLiterary Review.