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American Society of Landscape Architects


February 2006 Issue

Brave New Ecology
On the road to more sustainable urban landscapes, the natives-versus-exotics controversy, says one plant scientist, is a dead end.

By Peter Del Tredici

Brave New Ecology
Peter Del Tredici

Itís easy to enumerate hot-button issues in contemporary American culture: Gun control, abortion, globalization, intelligent design, and immigration reform are just a few. One thing that the debates about these issues have in common is that they are highly polarized, with neither side paying much attention to what the other is saying. Another is that they often have an overarching moralistic tone that pits good against evil, with little regard for facts.

Within the field of plant ecology, the issue of using exotic or native species in designed landscapes seems to bring out the worst in people, not unlike the debates over gun control and abortion.



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