From the BBC
"Darwin discussed how to make Ascension more habitable for humans with his friend Joseph Hooker, later director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, who visited in 1843. Hooker devised a plan.
He would plant trees all over the 859m (2817ft) summit of Green Mountain, Ascension's highest point. Foliage would trap moisture from the warm southeasterly winds that sweep continuously over, letting it drip down to ground level to assure a water supply for the troops. He would introduce grasses to create pasture for livestock, and soil to plant vegetables."
"At the moment it's a completely unmanagedmess of invasive species - one after another rises to dominance, others die back, those species crowd the footpaths, reducing the value of themountain for walkers."
It's supposed to highlight what's wrong, but also proved an interesting example for other areas concerned with invasives. Perhaps the lesson is that the apparent monoculture created by invasives is only temporary?
I found it interesting that the "invasive" mesquite the author writes about would appear to be a dynamic accumulator and early succession plant, punching it's deep tap root through the rock and creating soil for future plants. It certainly is converting sunlight into carbon and adding significantly to the biomass on the island. And if it is anything like the mesquite that I know about, it's a fantastic fuel wood. BBQ anyone?
One man's ecological nightmare is another man's tropical paradise.
There is, in my opinion, a naive assumption that says that at whatever point in ecological succession the white man first "discovered" a place, be it Ascension island, or any other place on this earth, that from then on, all further biological succession should be frozen. It's the myth of the pristine eco-system that assumes it was not in dynamic change, and should never be allowed to change.
But like it or not, the earth and her ecosystems is dynamic, not fixed. At some point, some bird was going to fly over a poop out a non-native seed, or some other plant would float in on the tides. What then? If a bird or animal introduces a new plant to the static system, should we shoot that bird and sternly reprimand all other birds: "Bad birds. Poop out in the middle of the ocean before landing here!"
But the OP is correct: it would certainly appear that Darwin's "solution" mirrors permaculture design. And the fact that 800 people now make this place their home would argue that he was tremendously successful. Oh horrors-- stuff grows out over the pathways and slows down the walkers! Solution: chop and drop.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
She still doesn't approve of my superhero lifestyle. Or this shameless plug: