Notes from scenario building session about the interaction between humans and invasive species. The two hour long workshop was designed to get a sense of what possible futures might exist for cohabitation with exotic and invasive species. Lisa Ma (a speculative designer working on 'human-invasives-interaction' at the time of the workshop) provided the framing and focal issue for the workshop. She was curious how invasive species might become a source rather than be seen as waste. Eva de Groote from Timelab brought together a diverse group of participants - from researchers, to activists, policy makers and cooks. The cultural centre Vooruit hosted the workshop at their premises and within their festival appropriately entitled “Possible Futures”. The workshop was an exploratory taste of Lisa's speculative microresidency at FoAM in 2014.
In collaboration with Timelab (Eva de Groote) andLisa Ma, at the Possible Futures Festival of Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium. Facilitated by Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney (FoAM). Participants: Peter Goethals, Lucie Evers, Tobias leenaert, Tim Joye, Jan Seys, Lut de Clercq, Katrien Strubbe, Geert Heyeman, Paul Blondeel, Gino Pauwels, Bram Crevits, Ilse Dehondt, Tineke Janssens, Eva Peeters, Eva de Groote, Lisa Ma. Photos by Michiel Devijver (photos with people) and Nik Gaffney (photos of writing).
Invasive and exotic species can be seen as opportunistic. They exploit ecological niches with brutal efficiency, spreading wherever they can. We could see them as extremely successful and adaptive plants and animals, but in most cases they are considered as a threat and a pest. A pest needs to be controlled, or even better - completely eradicated. However, this strategy has rarely worked in the past, so a change of approach is needed. Letting go of the idea of controlling invasives and changing our relationship to them is what might make them a source rather than a threat. However, in order for this relationship to change, both personal and systemic fear of the “wild other” must be addressed. How can we begin seeing opportunities for invasive opportunitst? How do we get from controlling to using invasive species, moving from branding them as “bad” towards “useful”? Which technologies need developing to make use of inevitable encroach of the invasive species? How will the social and environmental systems change?
Are alien species welcome? How will invasive species become a source, rather than threat and waste?
In order for alien (exotic, invasive) species to be welcome, there are a few key factors that would need to be fulfilled:
Some of the current social, political, environmental, economic and technological trends might pull our relationship to alien species in different directions:
society and culture
environmental and economic
science and technology
Out of key factors and macro trends, 6 critical uncertainties were chosen. Factors that are crucial for a successful cohabitation with aliens, but that are far from certain:
Two critical uncertainties were chosen as scenario axes:
Four scenarios for the year 2023, describing possible futures for cohabitation with alien species: