I recently had a thought about plants that I cannot get off my mind of how certain situations for plants are recognized when it comes to whether or not they are considered cultivated or not. I don’t know if this has been discussed before, but I want to make sure it does, I feel like it’s pretty important. To begin, the cultivation aspect, as I understand it, is the planting, or cultivation, of plants, which would basically mean that if there was human interference for how that plant got to the location it is at, it’s cultivated. Right? Easy to understand, but here’s where it gets interesting for me.
Yesterday, I was driving on Washington State Highway 20, starting from Tonasket to Kettle Falls. During that drive, the highway will go through some mountains that are in the Colville National Forest, and I found a really interesting location on that drive. At the Sherman Pass Campground, there are signs there (sadly I didn’t take photos of them for context for everyone here, it was an afterthought) that described the 1924 (I think) and 1988 forest fires that occurred in that area. There was information on one of those signs that talked about forest restoration, which got me thinking. Would the trees that got planted by the Forest Service be considered cultivated in accordance to iNat’s standards? But there’s a larger, underlying issue. How are you going to know which trees are cultivated? Which ones grew back naturally? Is it really a fair consideration to consider some cultivated but others not, when in reality there is no way anybody is going to know 100% which ones are and aren’t.
There’s another part to this to add on, in U.S. states that have a large timber industry, they often harvest trees from the National Forests, and because of laws that these timber companies must follow, there is reforestation, or replanting, of trees. We gain the same issue, how do you know which ones are cultivated, and will they be considered cultivated with iNat’s standards?
Another consideration I’d like everybody to give thoughts on, is the standard of “feral” plants, and to put this in relation with captive animals for what I’m specifically asking, is this: observations of captive animals on iNat that become feral, when it is observed, if it was in a state of being feral, it’s feral, and is considered research grade. This idea of how this would work is partly in inspiration of this boa constrictors observation in Texas, https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/4910798. Does the same apply to cultivated plants? If the only interference is the planting itself, and it survives for a decade without any help, it would be “wild”, would it not? I think understanding the boundaries of this is important.
It’s not only the reforestation of trees that this would apply to. The Forest Service can do replanting of any type of plant, but it’s the case of if you know, you know. If you don’t, then how would we handle this?
To summarize, do we consider cultivated plants in their native ranges and habitats as wild? Do we mark them as cultivated or not? How do we determine which individuals are even cultivated or not?