Over thousands of years of climate stability, the forest’s animals, plants, insects, and organisms adapted to this specific location. They learned to thrive within the timing of the forest’s seasons, its high and low temperatures, its rainfall and snowfall, the depth and duration of the winter freeze, the intensity and frequency of summer rains, and the other species that live there, from hosts to rivals and predators to prey to parasites.
Some living things traveled there by wind, on their own legs, or in the stomachs of other animals to what turned out to be an ideal home. Others evolved through mutation, with each generation experimenting to uncover traits better suited to the specific location. The long stability of the Holocene climate enabled wondrous complexity.
Humans are relative newcomers to Earth. Almost all species in this forest—and every other ecosystem—have been living on Earth longer than we have. Certain ancient species of plants, trees, and other organisms have survived climatic changes on Earth over hundreds of millions of years—will they survive into the future? The answer depends on the speed of climate change and whether we can help other species adjust.
Nature needs space and time to adapt and evolve.
Over thousands of years, pollen and seeds traveling successfully to a new suitable location allowed even the sturdiest plants to migrate, sometimes over great distances. Now, pollen and seeds are extremely likely to arrive on land controlled by humans who would classify any unfamiliar plant as a weed. Animals and insects can explore new areas when their homes become unsuitable, but enormous, single-crop fields cannot support the biodiversity that wild spaces can.