Conventional wisdom in the environmental and environmental regulation community is that if we save an ecosystem fragment from development that is enough and we can just let nature heal the fragment by itself. This kind of thinking is not correct in that ecosystem fragments were once part of a whole ecosystem that as a whole supported all the biodiversity within the system. We can no more leave an ecosystem fragment to its own devices as we can leave a severed finger on its own expecting it to survive outside the body without life support.
In a sense our bodies are ecosystems where different parts of the body are supported by the circulatory system, lymphatic system, and nervous system. These systems provide all cells in the body with oxygen and nutrients, remove waste from the body, protect the cells from microorganism invaders, and regulate cell function.
Whole ecosystems are composed of huge numbers of species of plants and animals that depend on sunlight and soil but also depend on systems of water flow and fire propagation. Included in this complexity are important infrastructure species of plants and animals that support vast numbers of other plants and animals.
If just one of these critical keystone species or forces of nature like water flow and fire are removed as biologist and ecologist Ed Wilson says, "It's like a drill hitting a power line, the lights go out across the system." In wetlands beavers are one of these keystone species that create habitat through pond building for large numbers of other species of plants and animals. If you remove the beavers you seriously degrade the wetland ecosystem or ecosystem fragment. As another example, if you keep fire out of light-fire ecosystems and even catastrophic ecosystems or fragments, you seriously degrade the biodiversity of the ecosystem or fragment.
Most environmentalists and biologists are trying to just identify plants and animals in ecosystems before they become extinct or scarce. They then work to try stop the wholesale devastation of ecosystems by man's activities and at least try to save fragments of ecosystems upon which to later rebuild whole ecosystems. However, many environmentalists and naturalists don't understand that ecosystem fragments have to be put on life support through prescribed fire or creation of small wildlife ponds through water management where beavers have to be excluded within the wildland urban interface.
Both light-fire ecosystems and catastrophic-fire ecosystems and fragments require fire. Light-fire ecosystems require frequent light fire for biodiversity and protection from catastrophic fire. Catastrophic-fire ecosystems require hot intense fires infrequently to create a fire mosaic of differing successionary stages to promote biodiversity within the region. In most places wildfires cannot be allowed to roam freely because of property embedded in the ecosystems or because roads, waterworks, and agriculture block lightning-ignited fires from spreading very far within the fragmented ecosystem.
An even greater misconception is that we should take man, who evolved and is dependent on nature like other organisms, out of the landscape. In other words we should depopulate people out of rural areas and concentrate them in cities. I say it should be the other way around. We have to put man back into nature but in a way that is beneficial to both man and nature, promoting a maximum amount of biodiversity.
A very serious problem as I see it is that people raised outside of nature in cities often do more harm than good to nature because they are isolated from nature. Ecosystems are very complex societies of plant and animal interaction and unless you are in nature in an almost daily basis your uninformed preconceptions about nature can have very damaging consequences. One of the best examples of this is the failed misguided policy of fire exclusion the past 120 years.
Those that started excluding fire from ecosystems often with the best of motives have caused huge losses of life, property and natural biodiversity in later decades. In the Western United States and elsewhere around the world fire exclusion caused light-fire ecosystems to dramatically blow up in catastrophic fire because fire no longer swept the forest floor clean. In other areas light-fire ecosystems have slowly degraded into non-fire ecosystems with corresponding losses of biodiversity.
In order to adequately rebuild ecosystems we have to understand as least the basics of ecosystem reconstruction, concentrating on critical ecosystem infrastructure. Nature is resilient and if you rebuild the infrastructure many less important species will wander back in on their own, while others will have to be reintroduced eventually. We also have to have competent environmental laws for prescribed fire use and wetlands-restoration projects that don't hinder ecosystem reconstruction, but rather support reconstruction.
Ed Komarek is a writer and author living near Cairo Georgia who writes books on diverse subjects of national and international interest including the book Fire In Nature, A Fire Activist's Guide. His other two books are UFOs Exopolitics and the New World Disorder and Enlightenment: The Long Hard Road (From Shamanism to Consciousness Science). His three books are free to read on their websites accessed through his portal website. http://komarek.weebly.com/