It's impossible to know what the world will be like in the year just beginning – how many more will die of COVID-19 before vaccines are widely distributed, what will society be like, will society really begin taking steps to protect the ecosystems on which we depend? But one thing we know, the natural world, in one form or another will go on.
Just as the pandemic of COVID-19 is changing the human system, so too have pandemics changed the natural world. The chestnut blight fungus eliminated American chestnut as a major component of the eastern forest; emerald ash borer is eliminating ash as an important tree in the same forests; the fungus causing white-nose syndrome has caused bat populations to plummet – what's next?
The natural world isn't static, it's a dynamic system. It changes constantly for many reasons. Now, as the world's climate changes, species will disappear from our local woods and waters, and new ones will arrive. That's been happening for more than 50 years and the pace of change is increasing.
But there's always beauty and fascination for the naturalist in forest and field –
COVID-19 kept this naturalist from going some of the places and doing some of the things he would have done without the pandemic, but it's not kept me indoors glued to the TV - hopefully you've also been able to get out in the natural world, and treated it with respect.
This series of posts (A Naturalist's Year) may be at its end, but this naturalist will continue to spend time in forest and field - and In Forest and Field will continue as the seasons change, birds migrate, insects emerge, and wildflowers bloom.
Stay safe and stay healthy - WEAR A MASK.