It’s a warm balmy night in the suburban garden. Apart from the cicadas, there is no sign of nocturnal activity. No owl sounds or sightings. No possum rustlings. Only the distant roar of traffic from the freeway. Last year, and for the last 30 years I would see and hear possums in the trees. Now it’s a rare experience.
'We hear much these days about the loss of species and biological diversity, usually in terms of diminished ecosystems, destabilized environments, and the loss of unknown physical resources. I suspect that the greater loss is of another kind - the way a local fauna links the concept of the self and the uniqueness of place in different cultures. The loss of non-human diversity erases nuance in identity. We are coarsened by the loss of the animals.' (Paul Shepard, American human ecologist)
The suburban homeowners who sanitize and control their gardens through paving, limiting flora to a small number of compliant shrubs and annuals, using noisy power tools and employing chemical warfare against insects, have succeeded. The built environment has expanded and the natural environment has shrunk. And we are all left the poorer for this.