Some people believe that small wooded areas adjacent to neighborhoods should not be touched. While I understand their concern for nature; their philosophy, which is best applied to a deep forest or isolated island, is inappropriate for these wooded areas.
These areas are not pristine deep forest and do not have the capacity to become such places. It is affected by nearby civilization without even being set foot upon. In addition, there is benefit for tending these areas and detrimental consequence for ‘leaving it be’. These areas are an opportunity for humanity to be a part of nature in a way that does not require sophisticated education or training. Denying such an opportunity by abuse of environmental regulation is both foolish and unjust.
Adjacent wooded areas are by their nature affected by civilization regardless of whether or not they are interacted with directly. They are already ‘touched’. These wooded areas favor common species of flora and fauna that often can live in human areas. The local environment, lacking isolation, is unsuitable for rare or unique species to spawn or thrive. It is highly unlikely that any species in adjacent wooded areas would be rare enough to need legal protection.
Nature often does not set concrete boundaries between one area or another. And civilization is unable to block nature out completely from its place, as evidenced by the continuing presence of undesirable insects in buildings. On the other hand, civilization also affects nature with both positive and negative influences. The interaction between nature and nearby civilization is two-sided.
Humanity’s interaction with nature can benefit people directly and nature indirectly. Studies in other countries have shown psychological benefit to people who have access to nature. In addition, tending the area can promote physical fitness. To deny people a place in nature is to deny that humanity is natural.
Nature, in turn, benefits from human awareness of the environment in the wooded area. People learn about local species in the wooded area and develop a sense of responsibility for them. Effects of pollution and other problems can be seen firsthand and motivation to solve those problems can be gathered more easily. Interaction between humanity and local wooded areas brings mutual benefit.
If human involvement brings benefit, it follows that leaving the area to fend for itself would have undesirable effects. The adjacent wooded area does not have the ability to draw from nearby deeper areas of nature since they do not exist. Instead, it depends on nearby civilization for any outside support. Places and things people do not invest time in are less likely to cared about. They would be more likely to treat the area carelessly.
Trash would more often be thrown into the area rather than being removed. Invasive species would gain a sanctuary to grow and take over. When a professional warns of trouble in the area, that person would be easier to ignore. Volunteers would be preoccupied with more pressing concerns. Regulation would more likely be met with resentment and hatred. And if disaster strikes the area and humanity is not allowed to intervene, the damage could spill over to human areas, bringing suffering to both humanity and nature. Leaving natural areas alone is not always a wise course of action.
Small wooded areas adjacent to civilization interact by virtue of their proximity. Guiding this interaction is better than trying to sever it. This interaction is a valuable opportunity to involve the local community with care of nature. An opportunity that helps everyone and everything there.