DAVID BARTLEM AT ROUNDTABLE: “Native” “Naturalized” “Non-native” “Invasive”? – December 2015

By Judy Garrison

The Roundtable audience on November 11th was chock full of forestry experts and landscape designers. And David Bartlem, a 15-year Andes resident, was well equipped to reach them with his presentation as he addressed how we in the Catskills might deal with the unprecedented rate at which plants and insects are migrating, intentionally and unintentionally, from all over the world. Bartlem, with a degree in landscape architecture from Cornell University, is both a landscape designer and an environmental literacy advocate. Maybe that latter designation explains why he was so successful in making the information accessible and useful for the rest of us, too. For instance, those of us contending with Japanese knotweed or the multiflora rose. The hour and a half presentation showed representations of various plants that could sometimes easily, and other times not so easily, be classified as non-natives and invasives. He made it clear that these are not hard and fast categories, and that umbrella classification for all of New York State doesn’t make sense, as our climates and biomass environments differ from place to place.

In summary, Bartlem said that in his opinion the metrics for classification should include consideration of the net effect on the bio-diversity in a given area (no massive displacement); there should be a net positive—or at least neutral—effect on the biomass; the non-native plants should fill niches presently unoccupied or vacated by native plants, and, if originating from a distant location, they should be planted in extremely similar underlying conditions.

I, for one, would welcome his return to the Roundtable. I’m also glad to know that he, with his recently completed coursework toward certification as a New York Flood Plain Manager, is among the citizens on the recently formed Andes Flood Commission.~