Most of the prevailing policies designed for fast-growing plants focus on destroying such plants and do so at the expense of protecting less successful indigenous species. They demonstrate a lack of understanding on the role of such plants in ruined or depleted environments that they like to inhabit. As a survival strategy for devastated natural environments, these plants can also be seen as guardians of life on our planet. In areas where soil is contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals some invasive species supply the environment with necessary phosphorus or nitrogen, which helps plants grow and develop. Others provide bees foraging in urban jungles with an ample supply of nectar and pollen, while people can use their abundant biomass as a new multi-purpose resource.
In order to explore the practical values of invasive plants, the Laboratory of Extended Living group created a learning space dedicated to intensive learning about Japanese knotweed and to the exploration of sustainable ways of living and working. Apart from the regular monthly clean-up of the green areas of the Fužine district, the group also examined different uses of the collected biomass (as food, a fertilizer, a decorative glaze in ceramics and a building material for insect hotels). Different experiments carried out in cooperation with various experts provoked discussion about several issues, such as the role and importance of craftsmanship, building/designing urban infrastructure for animals, learning about fermentation or permaculture processes and similar.
Japanese indigenous peoples liked to say that trees that were chopped down and used to produce objects for their own survival were given a new life, that their life was actually extended. The Laboratory of Extended Living revived the dialogue between nature and its inhabitants and created a temporary, yet sustainable and diverse project ecosystem.
Projekt sofinancira Mestna občina Ljubljana.