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Taking From Nature


Guest Daniel Leigh
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Over the past few weeks i have become more aware of nature but have also come to some questions. I wonder about taking from nature, say, a fallen branch as a walking stick, or flowers, fruits etc, found in the forest, or a stone from a riverbed. I wondered about whether it is right to take things from nature, and if so when is it right? Also if i should leave something in its place, and If so, what?

I know there is no right or wrong way to do things, but this is something i am having trouble thinking about on my path, i just wondered what some of your thoughts on the matter are.

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I don't see a problem with taking from nature within moderation - she's a generous kinda gal. It's only when you take so much that it will have an effect on the ecosystem that it becomes a problem. The obvious things you think of are deforestation etc but there are smaller things too. For example taking wild garlic leaves is fine - knock yourself out - but digging the plant up and taking the bulbs to replant at home would be crossing a line in my opinion, especially if you took a lot.

 

Of course it's always nice to give back. Conservation work, offerings, etc. Levels it out if you're worried about taking too much.

Edited by Touzo
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For me, there is no problem in taking something fallen, like a stick or branch but I look at it carefully to see what change there might be when I do - for instance, if the branch has been down a while, it may have become a habitat for creatures and then I would not move it. If a small stone or pebble, usually the same - if it would not be missed from its place. However, I would move nothing large or which would make a big difference if it were gone from its place. Also, on the beach, I might take one or two empty shells or small stones or pebbles. I would not take large flints - which have all gone from some of our Norfolk beaches - to adorn garden rockeries, presumably.

 

When cutting wood from a tree, I always murmur an explanation of what I wish to do and rely on instinct - if it feels OK then I go ahead - occasionally, you get the sense of a definite "no" :o_smile: Taking flowers and harvesting fruit and vegetables, I just do and give thanks!

We had a tree down in our garden and although we use wood to burn on fire and wood-burner, decided to leave it fallen - in a slightly wilder part of the garden where it fell - as a habitat. The woodpecker attacks it and there are all sorts of creepy-crawlys inhabiting it! So - giving something back, I guess.

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cant really add to all the above,its all been said...l do like to take along plenty of feeds for the variety of wildlife in the woods,which makes "me feel better"should l come home with any fallen un-habitat ed branch,or wild mushroom etc..so l am giving back to our mother .

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I transplanted some wild garlic once. Here's why.

 

There is a large patch of wild garlic in the verge where I sometimes walk the dog. I went one day and there were the men from the council strimmering it down before it had even finished flowering. So I grabbed a handful, put it in a dog poo bag and planted it where it won't get strimmered. I bet they wouldn't have done it if it wre bluebells. Curiously they left the daffodils in the verge alone. I suppose the wild garlic was just a weed to them. Had they left it alone for a few weeks it would have gone until next spring and the wouldn't have had to strimmer it.

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but this is something i am having trouble thinking about on my path, i just wondered what some of your thoughts on the matter are.

 

don't think, feel. then you will know

if you dont find it easy to feel that kind of thing just take what you need for your purposes and stop wasting energy worrying about such stuff

you are at least as important as a dead stick; empower yourself, don't cut your own balls off trying to be nice to something that would prefer you die - so it can use you as compost

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It depends, TBH. I am as much a part of nature as I am top of the tree so does being part of it mean that I am as entitled as any other creature to use as I need (need being the operative word: Need Not Greed), or does my being top of the evolutionary tree mean I have a responsibility to take care of what I use and leave behind?

 

Both, I think. I act as instinct impels me to do in any given situation.

 

(BTW - Teapot, I think the garlic'd be fine since it's bulbs - I harvest wild garlic leaves all the time (the same idea as strimming) and the plant doesn't mind at all :) )

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It depends, TBH. I am as much a part of nature as I am top of the tree so does being part of it mean that I am as entitled as any other creature to use as I need (need being the operative word: Need Not Greed), or does my being top of the evolutionary tree mean I have a responsibility to take care of what I use and leave behind?

 

Both, I think. I act as instinct impels me to do in any given situation.

 

 

Agreed. I am entitled as any other creature in nature to use what I need, but I also have a responsibility to do that in a responsible way - the higher up the tree, the greater the responsibility!

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Dear Daniel,

 

It depends, TBH. I am as much a part of nature as I am top of the tree so does being part of it mean that I am as entitled as any other creature to use as I need (need being the operative word: Need Not Greed), or does my being top of the evolutionary tree mean I have a responsibility to take care of what I use and leave behind?

 

I agree with Pomona & Freydis. Within reason I can't take from nature because I'm part of nature.

 

BB,

 

John Macintyre

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I'm in agreement with JohnMacintyre, Pomona and Freydis. That we are part of nature is why arguments that something wrong because it is is unnatural/against nature (GM for example) hold no water with me.

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I'm in agreement with JohnMacintyre, Pomona and Freydis. That we are part of nature is why arguments that something wrong because it is is unnatural/against nature (GM for example) hold no water with me.

 

It's an interesting point. Is a termite hill unnatural? Is a beaver's dam unnatural? 99.999999% of people would say no: nature equipped termites and beavers with the ability to do these things and it's perfectly natural for them to do them. On that basis you could say humans have been equipped with the intelligence, ingenuity, curiosity and ability to genetically modify things, to invent, build and fly planes, to do complex medical procedures etc - to do everything we do and everything we will ever do.

 

If that's the case though, couldn't you say nature is to blame for humanity's destruction of the environment, and that there is no such thing as "unnatural"?

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I don't think there *is* any such thing as unnatural. Everything is comprised of some initial natural component, whether fashioned and distorted by man or not. Nuclear bombs, GM crops, the latest face cream etc, it's all natural at its very heart, no matter how much it's tampered with IMO.

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I'm in agreement with JohnMacintyre, Pomona and Freydis. That we are part of nature is why arguments that something wrong because it is is unnatural/against nature (GM for example) hold no water with me.

 

It's an interesting point. Is a termite hill unnatural? Is a beaver's dam unnatural? 99.999999% of people would say no: nature equipped termites and beavers with the ability to do these things and it's perfectly natural for them to do them. On that basis you could say humans have been equipped with the intelligence, ingenuity, curiosity and ability to genetically modify things, to invent, build and fly planes, to do complex medical procedures etc - to do everything we do and everything we will ever do.

 

If that's the case though, couldn't you say nature is to blame for humanity's destruction of the environment, and that there is no such thing as "unnatural"?

 

Pretty much. Though instead of 'equipped' I would describe it as a product of evolution. I would also say that that the locating of humans as being within and thus non-separate from nature is ontological; I would still maintain the human/nature dualism for descriptive purposes. So I would describe nylon as being "man-made" and cotton as "natural" despite them both being ontologically natural.

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  • 4 weeks later...

How do people feel about Japanese Knot Weed or American red Signal Crayfish, all natural but transferred to our environment they are becoming a menace to endemic species?

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We human beings are responsible for the transfer of living things from one environment to another where natural controls are missing allowing the transferee to become a problem - rabbits in Australia, for instance. Then we try to regain the balance - for the rabbits, introduce myxamatosis with horrible results - then the rabbits become immune or mostly immune and the problem comes back ... we shouldn't mess with nature, but we do, and then there are consequences. We then have to live with those consequences because - in most cases - we cannot completely irradicate the problems we have caused.

 

Mink is another problem animal - imported and farmed for their fur and then some escape .....grey squirrels vs red squirrels, another example and so on ... all the fault of humans !

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How do people feel about Japanese Knot Weed or American red Signal Crayfish, all natural but transferred to our environment they are becoming a menace to endemic species?

 

I think that in the scheme of things Japanese Knotweed or the Red Signal Crayfish does not matter one little bit. If knotweed becomes highly dominant in this country then some species will suffer.... others might benefit and eventually the ecosystem will adapt. Remember that just 10,000 years ago our entire eco system consisted of tough grasses, lichens and a few tundra bushes and that the many thousands of species around us are all recent arrivals which tussled and jostled for their niches until they formed a more or less stable eco system. I don't think we should tolerate Knotweed, though, simply because we have the choice whether we have to or not. If we like our environment without Knotweed then we can work to undo the effects of our having introduced it. Nature doesn't really care what we do, because we are a part of nature and our actions are the result of fully natural processes.

 

Mike

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I'm just going to repeat the thrust of my previous post, which is that because I am part of nature, I can make the choice about which bits of nature I will tolerate co-habiting with. I choose to put bird feeders out which prevent pigeons but allow the finches etc access. I have an allotment but weed to allow my vegetables to grow. I pull out knotweed where I come across it the same way I pull up couch-grass. I acknowledge its part in nature the same way I acknowledge bluebottles. They're there but as the top dog, when they're in competition with what will impact me and mine, I make the choice. I have a responsibility towards nature since I'm top of the food chain, but that responsibility is tinged heavily with selfishness as it would be with any other creature.

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Agree with Pom and Freydis and John and everyone else who posted along the same lines.

 

I would also add that everything alive is disturbing some other nature just by intending to see another sunrise. While you're eating food, breathing air, wearing clothes, living inside and heating your home, picking up a fallen branch and foraging for brambles isn't going to cause a terrible shift in the balance.

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I asked the guy who taught me foraging about whether it was ethical to eat blackberries out in the wild. He said "if you are that worried about it, just take a dump in the hedgerow and complete the cycle"...

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This week I watched a (repeated) programme about the "virgin" Amazonian rain forest and how it is now thought to be the product of human activity. IIRC, the rest of the short series established the same thing about other areas we want to protect from human activity.

 

The point is: it depends on the activity, rather than the species. For those species we have displaced, I think we have to try to rectify the damage by (as far as possible) eradicating them from the places they were introduced to, if they are taking over. I have no problem with that. Neither do I have a problem with (for example) killing insects or wasps, if they are unwelcome guests in my house or garden. I suppose it's odd that I choose to try to communicate with trees but not with wasps. Maybe I need to apologise to the insects before I try to kill them. ;)

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Bees are often talked to but not wasps for some reason. Maybe if wasps were a bit more furry and made honey then we might be more willing to strike up a conversation?

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I don't think you need apologise MH, how many times has a wasp attempted to make contact and apologise before trying to sting you?

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Wasps, don't talk to me about wasps (I'm allergic). :o_angry: :o_angry:

 

Funny thing, I'm allergic to bees as well, but I don't feel anywhere near the same level of antipathy towards them. if a bee is in the same room as me, I'll at least feel sorry for it as OH kills it. Wasps, it's pure pleasure.....

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My own opinion is that if something is fallen then I can take it. I pick the odd flower here & there too.

However if I cut a branch from a tree, pick fruit from a tree or shrub, I always ask permission of it first & say thank you.

Ive done that since I was small so its automatic nowadays!

I have little time for wasps, I do try to put them outside if they come in. Never said sorry to one for splatting it though.

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I have never really thought about what i take. probally because i put back as much as i take. I mean you could go enviro 'Mental' about these things. surely everyone has taken too much of nature in their lives, even the act of planting a new garden and removing those bloody awful weeds is an act of nature terrorism. But then she removes stuff herself old mother nature. I have nature on my doorstep. Many years ago we had our old pond dug. before its was dark and shallow. There were marsh marigolds, water cress, they were moorhens nesting in the river bank. we had eels in the mud and some wonderful fungi. It was a marsh basically. They we had it dug out , the trees removed and we let the sun in. The marshmarigolds were replaced by an array wild flowers, the moorhens moved out the kingfisher moved in. The fungi went, white and red clover took over. The dragonflies and damselflys moved in. and the fish came down from the stream.

so taking that piece of old wood in the forest may be back for say the badger and the woodlice, but it may be good luck for that acorn thats been under it for ages. Nature rots herself all the time. we just need to take a stand back now and again. I mean no one here is talking about say cutting down a load of trees and putting cement in its place.You are fine to take stuff. Unless its on my land. Then i may have to shoot yeah peasant.

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Imagine in a few hundred years time, if knotweed is well established, people will probably think of it as a valued native plant. Anything belongs that can survive I suppose. But I must admit that when I was walking through some bluebells down by the river the other day, I pulled up some knotweed that was encroaching on them. Siding with bluebell spirit against knotweed spirit. Even more difficult is Himalyan Balsam because it smells so sweet and looks so pretty, but it takes over whole riverbanks so only the knotweed can compete with it. Sometimes we just have to take sides, just a matter of choice as to whose side we are on.

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