Look next to the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford waterway, a creek that claims three different names depending on exactly where you’re looking. Certain sections of the creek are highly impacted, feeling pressure from development of impervious surfaces on all sides (literally, in some places, where the creek flows through culverts). Yet Tacony Creek Park, just north of Roosevelt Blvd, is home to a population of beaver. Yes, beaver. Deer, coyotes and peregrine falcons are other species that not only survive in our hometown, but thrive. These and countless other plants and animals live where we live, and few would argue that they are not part of nature. Humans, like falcons, get tossed around by the wind from time to time. Like beaver, we use trees and other natural resources to build our homes and provide for our needs. And like coyotes, we sometimes have to be clever and scrappy to get by.
We live in the same place, use the same resources, are affected by the same factors, and face the same challenges as these animals. Humans have a leg up in some ways, to be sure. Medical, technological and transportation advances differentiate our life styles in many ways from other species. But while we are biologically able to survive without smartphones or Septa, we cannot survive without water, air and the plants and animals we eat. The availability of these resources affect us in the most basic way, and our actions, in turn, affect them. These effects, this interconnectedness, can be considered the definition of “nature.” The greatest challenge for those of us in the environmental field is illustrated when asking my initial question: are humans part of nature? Our success will be measured, and the future of our planet secured, when the answer is a collective and definitive yes!
Tinicum Marsh at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and Philadelphia Skyline Photo credit: Lamar Gore
About the author:
Rhyan Grech is a Project Coordinator with Pennsylvania Audubon. She focuses on bird and pollinator habitat conservation and enhancement, community engagement and education in schools around Philadelphia. Find out more atwww.facebook.com/AudubonPAPhilly.