Communities are as diverse as the landscapes they populate. When I first started in #IVM I was trained and became a champion of the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). We were hired to eliminate undesirables and IPM told us we needed to consider an integrated approach between manual and chemical. (Biological tended to be for deep pockets and provincial efforts). We called this a “prescription” and we felt we were making a difference.

Going from a road atlas to GIS a lot has changed in our industry since I started (And I’m no relic). We adopted technology, we grew as an industry and learned how to do the control method better. Darwin didn’t say “survival of the fittest” and as an industry I think it’s incredible how we fitted all of our technicians with tools, equipment and training to control better.

Darwin did say “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Our understanding of the environment, our relationship has changed as fast and as profound as the tech we use today. Environmental sustainability courses will teach you about a changing worldview. We have failed to adapt.

There’s something we are still holding onto from the 1970s, apart from Atari, YMCA, and our addiction to Star Wars… The principles of Integrated Pest Management are at the core of our industry and long overdue for adaptation.

Imagine if you will a paradigm shift, where the basis of our actions are not found out of agro-economic thinking but centered in our relationship with the environment. Humanity depends on a stable environmental concept so much that we think of “the environment” as existing outside of ourselves. We don’t place enough value on how much our existence depends on the environment and the vast web of interactions and competition for survival.

So what does this new IVM paradigm look like?

New ParadigmOld Paradigm
We manage vegetation to protect the stability of a continually threatened ecosystem.  We spray weeds and mow to meet the obligations of our client’s contractual relationships.
We look at biodiversity, biosecurity and how we might steward vegetation to provide a more cohesive existence.  We spray bare-ground chemicals on industrial sites, and broadleaf on roadsides. We mow when a client requests it.
We look at surrounding communities and land user’s needs to introduce species that aid in their mental and physical health.We spread seed, and/or hydro-seed if the client requests it.

The world is changing and our industry finds itself justifying IPM actions. My thoughts are that the time is limited on that approach outside of agriculture and it’s likely a good thing. We have an opportunity to become environmental stewards who teach community how to reconnect with nature. Early Detection and Rapid Response is an amazing concept we’ve been talking about for ages. We need to get communities involved in our efforts and supporting our business process by changing the way we see our industry. By accepting a novel approach and thinking critical about our assumptions.

My four year old son is convinced I go to work every day to “defend the environment from aliens” and that driving my fire truck means the world is a safer place. As much as reading that might make you smile, he’s not wrong.

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