Reading the Land
Aldo Leopold began his own land restoration experiment with his family in 1935. Seven decades later, his efforts to restore health to an ailing land continue to be advanced by others here and around the world. In Leopold’s day, the science of ecology was just starting to explore the interconnections of the natural world. Like Leopold, we cannot escape the science’s central dilemma – how can we relate to a system that is more complex and nuanced than we have the ability to comprehend?
Even though today’s landscapes on the Leopold Memorial Reserve are beautiful, our daily efforts still strive toward land health, engaging in a constant struggle to keep aggressive invasive plant species like buckthorn and reed canary grass under control.
Much of the work done today still begins with bringing back native species and natural processes. We scatter prairie seed, plant trees, and safely bring fire back to a patchwork of natural habitats. We can accomplish but little in these efforts unless we value patience, humility, and wild things.
“Once you learn to read the land, I have no fear of what you will do to it, or with it. And I know many pleasant things it will do to you.”
– Wherefore Wildlife Ecology?