You all know how complex nature is. There are so many synergies between plants, soil, water, animals and really all things. My guess is that we only know a small amount of all that actually goes on.
Of course that means that restoration is challenging. There are so many factors in the mix. Are there pollinators present to make seed possible? Are the right plants present to support pollinators? Is the soil healthy - does it support a diverse mycology? What effect is plant community management having - fire, grazing, chemical application? There are many, many variables.
In the 40 years (PRI turned 40 in February) that we have been restoring plant communities we have learned a great deal. Initial plant community selection followed by appropriate seed and plant introductions, planting strategies, and follow up management are all critical to a successful outcome. We have not even started with insects, soil microorganisms, birds or mammals. My guess is that success will get even better when we do.
To move this process of restoration forward the science (yes, we believe in science) and training needs to develop. Although progress has been made, the teaching of restoration is not commonly available. At PRI we struggle to find practitioners - individuals who are educated and experienced in the technical field of plant community restoration - and I believe that, as in medicine, it takes a lot of training and experience to become a good practitioner.
To help with this process we do as much as we can to train our staff. Plant knowledge is key but equipment use, materials production, and communication skills all need to be part of the package. In 2017 we will be increasing our commitment to training in all of these areas. We want our team to be better than ever and will do our best to bring you the best.
So, here we go again - our 41st year. Every project is important, every one counts and we appreciate your renewed efforts in these challenging, tumultuous times. Let's charge ahead in spite of it all and thanks in advance for doing so.
Enjoy your projects and have a great spring.
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