The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation Hardcover – April 7, 2015
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Praise for The New Wild
“Pearce shows that biodiversity actually increases more frequently than it decreases when newer wildlife marches in. Must reading for environmentalists of every stripe, and an optimistic report on the resilience of nature in a world of constantly shifting ecosystems.”
“Pragmatic conservation has to begin with undogmatic, realistic ecology, which shows that alien-invasive plants and animals almost always increase biodiversity—and therefore nature’s general health and robustness. Fred Pearce’s ‘new wild’ suggests a matching ‘new conservation.’”
—Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline
“I wholly agree with Fred Pearce’s argument for rewilding. Life, from the smallest bacterium to the whole living planet, is dynamic. Species do not belong in a planet-sized zoo. We should let Gaia evolve.”
—James Lovelock, author of The Vanishing Face of Gaia and A Rough Ride to the Future
Praise for Fred Pearce
The Land Grabbers
“Terrific… [Pearce has] produced a work of required reading for anyone concerned about global justice in the twenty-first century.”
—Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing
When the Rivers Run Dry
“An enriching and farsighted work.”
—Jai Singh, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
- Publisher : Beacon Press (April 7, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0807033685
- ISBN-13 : 978-0807033685
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #553,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This is the country where you only ever see a possum depicted as snarling over a helpless bird chick or as funny roadkill fridge magnet. Where predators are always 'nasty' and where we are now apparently calling the Australian Diamond Skink 'Plague Skink', because it will make it less liked, while Sirrocco the Kakapo has his own Facebook page. And if you want to be taken at all seriously, do not dare to even question the liberal use of 1080. It's the imagery, language and manipulation of racism- for lack of a better word-more than the actions that sit so uncomfortably with me.
This is also the country where rare domestic breeds that survived in the wild, like the Arapawa goat and Kaimanawa horse only hung on against eradication by the skin of their teeth. It's the country where we battle against wilding pines taking over tussock country, that was largely only created after early Maori burned down much of the original forest cover, while at the same time running an ambitious government project to plant a billion trees (not all native) to help off-set climate change. Let me quote from the DOC website, because it could be an example straight from the book: " As wilding conifers overwhelm our native landscapes, they kill our native plants, and evict our native animals. They also have a huge impact on our economy. They suck valuable water out of catchments, they add big costs to farming and they impact on tourism and recreational activities"
We depend on dairy, tourism, fishing and logging for much of our national income and it's amazing how blind we can be to their impact, if we really try. Much easier to blame the wilding conifer and the plague skink...
No, I'm not suggesting giving up on Sirrocco and neither is this book, it just advocates for some balance and for once in a while to stop and question our attitudes. The way to hell is paved with good intentions. The 19th century acclimatisation societies thought they did the right thing too when they introduced everything from sparrows to chamoix to the place. The goal has changed since then, but not the idea that humans have the right and wisdom to determine what nature should look like.
I highly recommend this book, even - and especially - if you think you will hate it.
Top reviews from other countries
Waving the white flag for ecosystems all over the world is Fred Pearce as he carefully hand selects his examples that best back up his argument for invasion and the retreat of environmentalist there allowing an influx of foreign invaders into some very vulnerable habitat.
His overall argument sounds very convincing as he describes such places as the once unadorned landscape of Ascension Island and then the introduction of hundreds of new species. This has resulted in greater diversity and the ‘Green Mountain’ but the cost of the green mountain for all its richness is the extinction of at least four plant species and other species now marginalized, as well as the quick proliferation of the Mexican thorn which is encroaching on the sandy beaches the Green turtle uses for breeding. Almost all the species introduced are thriving fine in their home regions as well as other introduced parts of the world but the Ascension Island has suffered the lost of species that the world will never see again. If Ascension Island had been left to nature, species richness would have arrived through the course of time.
Fred Pearce also fails to address ‘lag time’, the time from the introduction of a species into a new ecosystem and its gradual rise from rarity to an abundant plague. The introduction of rabbits into Australia is an exam that occurred in one human generation that can easy be documented and seen by all to have a short lag time from an original few to millions. Other species with greater longevity, slower maturity and limited distribution only start to pose a threat to the new ecosystem once their numbers have proliferated over many generations, such as tree species or medium to large herbivores. They could be hundreds of these examples going unnoticed whilst their numbers grow over long periods of time.
Fred Pearce sugar coats the arrival of new invaders to western Europe, such arrivals as Japanese knotweed, Rhododendrons and Himalayan balsam, rather than enrich ecosystems they have upset the balance creating vast monocultures along European waterways, railway and high way networks. It is true that these species are making the most of landscape already disrupted by humans and hitching a ride along our infrastructure but these three species are able to displace many more native flora and in turn the species that depend on them.
Once the floor of a wooded river bank would be covered in wood anemones, primroses and violets just as the bank of my local stream in England once was, before Himalayan balsam begin to encroached at an ever increasing rate, now almost all the flora is this monoculture, to me is not enriching the ecosystem but de-riching biodiversity. I agree that some Eco systems are lost and will never return to the pristine state, what a place New Zealand must have been before the settlement of people, but that will be impossible, still let's save what's left. A world of just domestic cat, dogs, Japanese knotweed and rats doesn't sound that appealing.
The extinction of many species and especially those endemic island species is not the preferred outcome, this catastrophe is about because of people and its our responsibility to protect and save every species, all life is precious and once a species is gone, IT IS GONE.
There are several conventional wisdoms that this book tackles. Invaders reduce biodiversity. Invaders displace native species. Invading species are bad and native ones good. Ecosystems are delicately co-evolved networks and subtracting one native or adding one interloper harms the entire system. That there is – or was – such a thing as pristine nature and that the invaders upset this balance that, once upset, will either take ages to recover or never recover at all.
What Pearce shows is that none of these contentions is true - in all instances. In some cases at least, invaders increase biodiversity. Invaders boost native species. The dichotomy between invader bad and native good is false. Eco-systems are not akin to the collaborative model of co-evolution but a collection of opportunists. Even in in such places that we consider pristine – the rainforests of the equator, the savannahs of Sub-Sahara Africa – bear the fingerprints of human creation.
For Pearce, the conventional wisdoms have held sway for so long because invasion biologists have, like an invading species, driven competing views from the field. But that is changing and there is science to back it up. Pearce champions those researchers who trying to level this academic playing field. In doing this, he can be partisan and partial. But so have the upholders of the established orthodoxy, passing themselves of as detached objectivity that is not wholly justified.
In summary, I for one welcome this book. Despite its sometime sweeping and polemical tone, I think it is much-needed corrective to the doom merchants who have held the microphone for too long. He does not deny that sometimes the conventional wisdom could be right (rats on South Georgia are bad news for the ground-nesting birds of that island) but he introduces shades of grey in an academic field dominated by black-and-white – and the active suppression of alternative points of view. Anyone interested in conservation issues should read it.
His arguments centre around fresh ways of looking at ecology and diversity enabling a more pragmatic approach that contrasts with the usual idealist and purist approaches established in the field of nature conservation.
I found many of his arguments compelling and feel there is definitely a place for his common sense approaches in modern countryside management.
I wouldn't say that all nature conservation aims should accept invasive species. However, despite some disagreements I feel this is an entertaining and thought provoking read for those interested in the subject.