By Kevin Main
Choosing to save is a good thing. It is good to save some income for emergencies or retirement. Maybe it is also good to save a piece of pie for a midnight snack. Either way, the thought of setting something aside for later use is a trait both wise and often necessary.
There are examples of saving things seen in the natural world as well. “Florida Scrub-Jays bury thousands of acorns each year so that they can be dug up and eaten later,” said Angela Tringali, Avian Ecologist at Archbold Biological Station. “The acorns are an important food, especially when other sources of food such as insects and lizards are scarce,” said Tringali. Some plant species, such as the Florida Rosemary, drop hundreds of seeds that remain viable (able to sprout) for decades. When the adult plant dies, the seedlings sprout up to take its place. “In an area that burns frequently, this mechanism is critical for the survival, because adult Rosemary plants are killed by fire,” said Eric Menges, Director of Plant Ecology at Archbold Biological Station.
Setting aside land for preservation is another type of saving. Early conservationists, such as John Muir, saw that the once seemingly endless natural resources of the United States would be completely exhausted if the harvesting of those resources were left unchecked. President Theodore Roosevelt put millions of acres under conservation through the creation of many of our national parks and forests, in part due to the impact of his conservationist friends.
Private individuals also saw the need to set aside lands for the benefit of future generations. When Richard Archbold established Archbold Biological Station in 1941, his primary intention was to create a place where scientists could come and do research. He understood the importance of biological research that spanned decades and when he died, he left his research station as a place where that type of research could continue indefinitely.
While we may not be in a position to preserve thousands of acres, like Roosevelt and Archbold, we can “bury some acorns” for the future. Having a conservation mindset is a good place to start. Whatever resource you choose to conserve, it will have future benefits. You may not benefit directly; it may be decades before any benefits are clear. When Roosevelt set aside lands for national parks, he may not have envisioned all the benefits we reap from those parks today. When Archbold donated his lands for research, he could only wonder what future scientists might discover. Making a choice to save something is being mindful of the future, with the hope that you can do something to make it better.