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Am I guilty of ecocide?

 
pollinator
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Please see pictures attached.

This is mosquito hatchery (ephemeral swamp) turned into a small pond - this is how it looks like in less than a month after earthworks. Is the land healing nicely after the surgery?

And it is just the beginning. Trees and shrubs will follow soon. Flower meadow for bees is already sown. Small fruit orchard will join as well. The pond will be stocked next spring. Some water plants already planted, more to come. Wildlife moved in already.

After posting these pictures on social media I have been attacked fiercely by a number of ecologists saying that this is a crime against nature. I was told that I should have left the swamp alone, as it was.

My soil is almost pure sand and this was the only way I could build a pond (except using plastic liner) - in the lowest part of the property, taking advantage of groundwater level.

Am I guilty of ecocide?
Pond-view-1.jpg
Pond view 1
Pond view 1
Pond-view-2.jpg
Pond view 2
Pond view 2
 
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I think people forget just how deadly mosquitos are.  They are quite happy to 'preserve' 'pristine' swamps and use something like DDT to kill the bugs.  I don't find this acceptable for two reasons.

1. toxic bug spray is...um, toxic.  Biocides used to kill mosquitoes also harm other members of the food chain.  
2. swamps aren't stable - they change over time.  Nature is always changing!  

It's only been a month?  Too early to see if the land is 'healing'.   I'm not even sure I know what 'healing' means in this context.   Healing implies going back to how it was, so I don't think it is.  But if healing means, 'living things are growing here', then it looks like it will.  If we mean "improve biodiversity and increase the amount of living things that flourish at that location" then that depends on this next year or three.  Ecology takes years to improve and 'stabilize'.  


When we moved to our farm, we cut down 29 trees.  We got all sorts of hate for being eco-hating tree murderers.  Since then, we reshaped the land to stop erosion, deepened the swampy pond to be less ephemeral (thus increasing the amount of water in the dry end of the aquifer) and planted over 600 trees (500 of which grew).  The neighbours still give us hate for cutting down the 29 trees, but tough titty!  Several endangered animals have made their home here and we've increased the tree diversity from 2 species to over 200.  

That said, we do have the Streem Keepers certificate which is the local requirement if one wants to make any changes within 100 yards of a watercourse.  

 
pollinator
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First you have to define ecocide. Then you have to decide how much you care about what other people think, given that they don't know anything about what you're doing.

Personally, I think that if you wanted an absolute metric by which to decide this, it would involve counting the types and populations of life form present before and after, and gauging the net difference, including a focus on native and endangered species. If you have more diversity and greater populations, you're boosting the overall variety of life there, and therefore it's resilience in adverse conditions.

If you want to respond to their attacks, you could call them out on their hostility, and tie it to their inability to articulate their points succinctly. You could also pretend to be oblivious to their hostility and pretend like they had started the conversation with some rational concerns and well-thought-out point that they politely presented. You could preface your response with this premise.

If they have real concerns about ecology, and about specific at-risk species in particular, you can address them. If they're just trolling you because they noticed that something changed and they can be right bastards about it, that's something else.

You said these were ecologists. What are their credentials? Or are they not accredited? Meaning, are they just eco-warriors without a clue?

-CK
 
pollinator
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Why is making a pond ecocide? Things change , nature adapts.  A pond provides so much for nature. Good job. I'm jealous.
Are you going to fill it with local plants to speed up naturalization or just let happen what happens?
 
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When you skim off the dross, you created change, and people do not like change.

It really does not matter what you did, because change happened, and they will just present justification of why they dislike what you did.
 
pollinator
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Richard Gorny wrote:After posting these pictures on social media I have been attacked fiercely by a number of ecologists saying that this is a crime against nature. I was told that I should have left the swamp alone, as it was.



OK as you likely know, yes indeed these haters have a point to some degree. However what you did was not nearly what you are saying they are accusing you of. Indeed swamps are an important ecosystem, and yes too many are drained and paved over. What you did though is take a wet land feature, and replaced it with a wet land feature. The damage to the ecosystem is minimal in this. You have to take most anything on social media with a a shaker of salt, not just a grain. People go up in arms on social media, often quite hypocritically.

Yes there is a point of how valuable swamps are, but so are ponds. Now if you drained the swamp and put in a parking lot, you would deserve some hate. But your good on the pond building.

And thank you for doing such a good job, it is lovely.

*edit to add, be sure to share some pics as you add trees and other good stuff. Sounds like you have some great plans in the works and this pond is only going to get better.
 
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Richard Gorny wrote:

After posting these pictures on social media ...



In my mind, that was your only mistake.  If you put anything on social media, at least half the people will find fault with whatever you did.  It's far easier to criticize someone else than it is to do something.  

I think the place you created is beautiful.  
 
pollinator
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i also think it looks great. Anything said on social media is not worth listening to.
 
gardener
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If you are guilty, then what would you say to the 250 million beavers (give or take) who once inhabited every part of North America?  Those beaver fiends—they're regular eco-terrorists!  How dare they excavate and turn low-lying areas into productive ponds.  How dare they flood innocent eco-systems, drowning out the flora and fauna living therein.

Ironically, those former beaver habitats are now the swamps that these people are now chastising you about.  Over the centuries, beavers will colonize, abandon, re-colonize, re-abandon  . . . a habitat hundreds of times.  THOSE are the wetlands that these people are now screaming at you about.

Some people have this static view of nature that nothing should ever change -- leave it exactly as you found it.  However nature doesn't have that view of nature.  Wildlife (like the aforementioned beavers) and naturally occurring processes (like wildfires, floods, and seismic events) all radically change the land.  Once a swamp, not forever a swamp.  Once a mountain, not forever a mountain.  

Tell them to go pound sand, and then go for a swim in your pond before it gets too cold out.
 
Richard Gorny
pollinator
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Thank you for your comments everyone.

A background of this story is that many, many (a few hundreds if not thousands) years ago, a river was flowing where my pond is now. The river has changed its path few hundreds years later, leaving an oxbow, a sort of a natural pond, not connected to any other water bodies. The river is now half a mile away.

The oldest people remember that they were coming here to fish and to swim, about 50 years ago. Then, since this land has become state owned, natural succession caused that surrouning meadows turned into woods and trees started to shed their leaves to the pond.

In 1980's the oxbow was quite shallow already, in 2000's it has become ephemeral, so water was visible only during wet seasons.

Beavers have been "reintroduced" to the river in 1980's. In 40 years, their population has grown enormously, since they had no natural enemies. They have cut every single tree along the riverbank, making it more prone to erosion. They started to explore areas further from the river. In 2014 beavers have discovered my place. They have been dragging cut trees half a mile to their burrows by the river.  In 2015 they have decided to move in and to make burrows in the banks of the oxbow.

I have protected the trees on one side of the oxbow with chicken wire. These are the trees you see on the pictures. Only in two years beavers have cut or damaged 97% of the trees on the other side of the oxbow. Then they moved away leaving me with approximately 30 cubic meters of fallen trees (firewood for six years).

Since I had to clean the mess anyway, I have decided to "go back in time" to the stage of oxbow with water and fish.  We have removed the mud and used it as a fertile layer on the banks. Fallen trees were cut into firewood and what was rotting, along with all debris, was used to build a berm  filled with wood - a hugelberm ;)

My small homestead is 3 hectares (7 acres) of forest. Out of which 97% was Zone 5, I was effectively using only 3%. However, all signs are showing that we might be facing serious problems in the nearest future, one of them being lack of water (the nearest town was without water for a week in 2019). I have decided that "restoring" a body of water is a smart move, not only for me, but also for the environment.

Healing of the land is a process and I have never said it is healed already. What I meant was that in less than a month the banks are green, soil erosion is stopped and the pond is full. The healing process was initiated, and it will continue. My role, from a permaculture perspective and ethics (as I understand them) is to make this place as life friendly as possible, including us, humans. My duty is to obtain a yield as well, and to take responsibility for my own existence and that of my children, right?

As some of you said, the Earth is in a state of constant change. Was my place in the very best shape when river was flowing here, or when it has been an oxbow, or when it has dried out? Hard to decide .... I have no doubt that my actions were causing disturbance to the natural processes, left alone, this area would become a forest within the next 100 years. I have stopped and reversed this process.

Just on the boundaries of my land, in state owned forest, hundreds of hectares are being clearcut. A huge concrete roads are being build in order to transport wood from the forest. Where are the ecologists?

I've been sharing my permaculture journey on social media for the last five years, since in my country permaculture is just starting and I believe in leading by example. I think I have infected a few thousand brains with these crazy ideas of gardening, self sufficiency and other crap. I do not consider that as mistake. However, as popularity of my internet site increases, it brings more and more critics and naysayers. I'm considering if it is still worth to share my permaculture journey with others. In case of this pond, I'd do better if I stfu.

As you have probably already noticed, I had to vent out. Sorry about that. Many thanks for reading this and for all your comments. I'm going back to my Earth destruction mission, trees are not going to plant themselves ... or, wait a sec ... do they? ;)
 
pollinator
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Oh dear sweet FSM.. I am afraid you are indeed guilty of a most egregrious crime, perhaps even a sin... it's about the worst thing a person can do, at least in the eyes of people who do not...

I am speaking, of course, of SOMETHING. You have done gone and accomplished SOMETHING, and there is very little that those who do little like better than to worry at those who have done something.

Ignore them utterly.


It looks great. You are obviously well aware of the changeable nature of nature and of landscapes, and the environment you have created will house many creatures. It isn't any more 'ecocide' than is a beaver induced flood... some things die, so that others may live.

A secure water supply is an excellent thing.


I consider complaints of a certain sort to be a sign I am on the side of the angels. There are some people whose support would cause me serious concern. If you would judge a man, know his enemies...
 
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Too bad there wasn't 'before' and 'after' photographs just for comparison.

I'm guessing the trolls are aiming at the loss of species variety, habitat, and soil structures that existed before the work.

Regardless of the navel-gazing, it's all done and dusted now so there's no point thinking about what was.

Move on and enjoy the new landscape - it may be a good idea to keep a record of the species that repopulate the changed landscape, it may all balance out as the system matures.

 
Travis Johnson
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I think the bigger issue here is not whether environmental damage was done or not, it is with the concern about others opinions.

My Grandfather told me long ago that no matter what you do, people will complain about it, so just make a good plan, and do not worry about what other people think. That advice has made me a "doer" and I like that name.

I never saw the need to go out and gather a clutch of like-minded friends in the midst of controversy. My ex-wife did that when we got divorced, going out to family and friends and trying to say this and that about me to get them on her side. I beat that pretty easily because I learned another lesson early on. "They only get you if you care". I did not care how many people she got on her side, I just lived my life, without her now, and in the end many of those friends and family get along with me again.
 
Richard Gorny
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F Agricola wrote:Too bad there wasn't 'before' and 'after' photographs just for comparison.



I'm working on it. I will get a good comparison soon.

So far, I have found two pictures in my archives, but I will have better ones. My friend was taking some pictures a week before the earthworks started.

staw-2009-2019.jpg
[Thumbnail for staw-2009-2019.jpg]
 
Travis Johnson
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Well you are better than me. I usually get halfway into a project and say, "Jeesh, this looks so good, I should have taken pictures of what it looked like before."

By the way, in my absentmindedness, I never said what a great jobs you di. That looks really nice. I really commend you on a nice pond.
 
Richard Gorny
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Travis Johnson wrote:Well you are better than me. I usually get halfway into a project and say, "Jeesh, this looks so good, I should have taken pictures of what it looked like before."

By the way, in my absentmindedness, I never said what a great jobs you di. That looks really nice. I really commend you on a nice pond.



Thank you (and everyone who said that it looks nice), although I was not after the look, I have to agree with you guys :)

Actually, I was documenting everything, I have made plenty of pictures and videos of "before" and "after". Then, I run out of disk space. In order to continue documenting the earthworks I have deleted some files. It turned out weeks later that I have deleted "before" part of the documentation by mistake .... It is REALLY hard to do the earthworks and to take care of the camera and laptop in the same time, working from dawn to dusk lol

 
Richard Gorny
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Beginning of earthworks. No single tree has been removed on the right bank.

Scraping and setting aside topsoil and mud, for later use.
Beginning-of-earthworks.jpg
Beginning of earthworks
Beginning of earthworks
 
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The only time I would say that could be considered ecocide would be if there were some specific plant or animal present that requires seasonal water only, something like fairy shrimp or certain orchids otherwise you are simply changing the habitat available but not removing it.
 
Richard Gorny
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Skandi Rogers wrote:The only time I would say that could be considered ecocide would be if there were some specific plant or animal present that requires seasonal water only, something like fairy shrimp or certain orchids otherwise you are simply changing the habitat available but not removing it.



I agree with you. The only ones I can think of are newts. Therefore, I have left a half of the length of the oxbow untouched, and the earthworks affected 60 out of 120 meters of its length. I have also made the pond gradually shallower towards the far end. Water level changes will make far end more wet or dry depending on rainfall.
 
Travis Johnson
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We had that issue for awhile. I know logging gets a bad name, but it can really do the forest a lot of good if done right.

Suddenly someone got the idea that loggers were killing all forested wetlands even if we were selective logging the area. It did not take long to prove, not only were loggers NOT destroying forested wetland, we were actually creating tons of habitat for such things as salamanders. That was because as we built roads, culverts and bridges were dissipating the water flows and allowing for seasonal changes. We created far, far more wetlands then we ever destroyed.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Great job for infecting people with permacultureand the lot. If more people would think like you the country site would be more interesting. Not only for you and wildlife, but also for tourists who are seeking refuge from busy stressful cities more and more. Providing an income stream for locals. I know this is a far stretch and not an argument in the fight against trolls ruining your morale. But like Travis grandfather said they only get you when you care. Wise man.
Keep your blog going. Show the progress. Pictures show more than words.Is it in Polish?
I don’t get the 2010-2019 in the pic you posted. I thought you made water.
 
Richard Gorny
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Great job for infecting people with permacultureand the lot. If more people would think like you the country site would be more interesting. Not only for you and wildlife, but also for tourists who are seeking refuge from busy stressful cities more and more. Providing an income stream for locals. I know this is a far stretch and not an argument in the fight against trolls ruining your morale. But like Travis grandfather said they only get you when you care. Wise man.
Keep your blog going. Show the progress. Pictures show more than words.Is it in Polish?
I don’t get the 2010-2019 in the pic you posted. I thought you made water.



Yes, my blog is in Polish.
The 2019 picture is before I have started earthworks. Shows early spring situation. Earthworks were done in August, after everything has dried out.
It shows that in 10 years (from 2010 to 2019) water level has drastically dropped and permanent water was replaced with ephemeral swamp.
 
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