Why I Love Weeds! …. or pioneer species

There are too many sweeping generalisations here. Most weeds can’t be labelled pioneer species, most pioneer species aren’t weeds – it doesn’t work putting the two things together. Weeds aren’t misunderstood, it’s you who has the misunderstood the definitions.

Weeds usually can’t be labelled as pioneers (and if they’re a native/naturalised pioneer; why call them a weed?) as they don’t allow secondary or tertiary species to come through, instead they create monocultures and drive biodiversity loss. Where as pioneers (an example in my area are local Acacia sp.) allow other plants to come up through the shade they provide then die off in 20-30 years, letting the new trees (Eucalypts) rebuild a canopy – driving biodiversity. Biodiversity doesn’t come back when every niche is dominated by a single species – a weed.

I get the admiration of weeds in their ability to thrive, but I’d hardly call them beautiful and lush. The weed dominated areas near me look like absolute rubbish tips, and that’s essentially what they are. Huge stands of 50m dead trees covered in a single vine species, not a single animal in sight. Most people will agree that the beauty in nature is it’s diversity. The vast forest of Camphor Laurels near me are dead silent. Nothing can prey on them as they are toxic, they poison the waterways, they don’t provide habitat as nothing wants to live there. There’s no time for our native species to adapt. The only thing they’re good for is making chopping boards… It’s a mono-culture, it’s boring, it’s anything but beautiful. I can’t see how you can go to what was once a wondrous open forest teeming with life and different micro-climates, now dominated by weeds and think how amazing and wonderful the impenetrable wall of Prickly Pear is.

You then go on to talk about how biodiversity will come back in a million years, but that isn’t relevant to now. I don’t want to have to suffer looking at a field of Lantana for my lifespan because “she’ll be right in a million years”. And then, how do you know in a million years the planet isn’t just dominated by a few species that fill every niche possible and can thrive in any given climate? Plants that just out-compete each other until there’s only one on top. It’s an absolute cop-out.

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