Good article. One moral of the story may be, ...don't over graze. I've spent a great deal of time at Pineridge Reservation, in South Dakota. Much the same thing happened there, as happened in the Mediterranean. The lands of southwest South Dakota used to be covered with grasses. It was good for buffalo, and it was good for grazing domesticated animals. The story I was told by Elders there was that "white" farmers and half breeds (their word) came to the Rez and leased land for farming/ranching. They were very successful. And then they got greedy. And over grazed the land (just like the Romans did in the above story). Now Pineridge looks much like desert (like N. Africa does now). Sandy soil, low laying cactus, rock, dry. I was often told to not walk out there, it was too dangerous. Just snakes and coyote. I thought it rather beautiful, and I walked a lot and far, but the Lakota people I knew told their kids to stay away. --Which may have been among the many reasons there was such a break in the culture during the times I was there. Agriculture has consequences.
In any case, in the article scientists are now searching for the lost herb, silphium. This once so valuable herb may be long gone. It apparently can not be cultivated, and just needed to be left alone in nature in order to propagate and spread. But it was so useful and profitable, that it was picked and grazed to extinction. The landscape is now permanently altered in the herbs original habitat, the land is now much drier, ....and folks wonder what happened. Just like Pineridge, those lands might someday be able to regenerate, but as long as human inappropriate interference continues, ..ain't gonna happen. --(Just another reason to like Permaculture.)
Creating sustainable life, beauty & food (with lots of kids and fun)
I love how they show pictures and descriptions of the wrong huckleberry! The mountain and evergreen huckleberries are the ones people go up to the mountains to pick. They're BLUE. They aren't, from what I hear, very tart. The red huckleberry grows at low elevations on cedar stumps and cedar/conifer debris. It's sour and small (pencil eraser to pin head size) and not nearly as desirable. I still remember when I was in college, one of my classmates was ecstatic that I had huckleberries growing at my house. So I spent hours filling a bowl with little red huckleberries and proudly brought them to her. She ate a few and was not delighted by their flavor, as they tasted nothing like the berries she picked in the mountains as a child. And, that was when I learned that my (red) huckleberries are not the same berry that people go up into the mountains to pick!