Near and dear to my heart are those stories and studies that look at finding the balance between human survival – business and the ecosystem in which they exist. This study was done in Holland with an exquisitely ecosystem adapted bird. The red knot is a sandpiper like bird that depends on cockles to fuel its travels. 50% of the population flies through a small area. Harvesting the cockles using suction dredging is harming the population is the conclusion.
A couple of things that came to mind as I read the study. One of the important findings was that the density of cockles wasn’t changing in the dredged area. Now this might be considered an important indicator that the harvest was indeed sustainable. The kicker is that the nutritional value was going down. The result was that the a portion of the red knot population couldn’t eat enough to get the energy they needed for migration.
The second thing that rang through my mind was something a forester friend said to me as we negotiated land use for his employer. The problem with the environmentalists “ecosystem approach” to planning is that it doesn’t take into consideration the largest user on the land – man. His schtick was that we needed think about the impacts that man had on the land. Not to stop them – necessarily but to consider and plan for them – try to see all the impacts and plan for them.
A note to the reader. While I intend to focus on the particular species and ecology of the San Juans – I also want to use this space to bring in issues and information from across the globe that will impact this fragile space. Feel free to tell me to take a hike. That’s what comments are for.