In the desert of Southeastern Utah the sand itself is alive. There is a crust made up of cyanobacteria, green algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, and other tiny organisms that protect the soil against erosion, retain moisture and help the grasses and bushes to keep a foothold in the sand. The National Park Service warns: “Don’t Bust the Crust! It’s Alive!”
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of spending the weekend in Moab Utah to do some biking and catch a glimpse of the stars with no local light pollution. It was epic and deeply moving. The desert in Moab, Utah is a mostly intact wild ecosystem. Human activity is channeled in specific areas and trails and the vast majority of the land is untouched. As it does not hold many extractable resources of value, it has not been tamed by humankind.
By contrast, Florida has sold off vast tracts of its wild land for development. Wetlands have been drained and conservation pushed back in favor of extracting value. This has given rise to a number of environmental issues including; nutrient pollution from fertilizers and septic tanks, tourism based waste, wildlife extinction, invasive species and toxic algae blooms. Bit by bit we have developed the wild out of Florida, the wild that had maintained a balance for hundreds of thousands of years. Florida is no exception. Wherever we go, extract and develop, natural systems break down leaving us to chase down a series of endless ecological issues.
The best course of action in this case is to refrain from development without anticipating its impact on the environment. The second best course of action would be to rewild the land. This is more than simply vacating the land and letting it go wild. The changes are too great to make a difference on time scales smaller than a thousand years.
Rewilding is working with natural systems to restore the ecosystem, or maybe better said, rebuild enough of the basic wildlife structure that the ecosystem restores on its own as wildlife’s natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.
The rewilding of the Yosemite National Park is an example of this approach. Twenty-six years ago wild wolves were reintroduced to the park. The results of this effort brought the grey wolf back from the brink of extinction and restored the balance of park. The wolves brought down the elk populations that had over-grazed sapling willows and aspens, sending populations of birds plummeting and leaving the beavers without materials to build dams, causing fish die offs from high water temperatures. All those issues are now resolved in the park due to the reintroduction of the wolves.
The wolves were just the start of dozens of projects that the park rangers have taken to restore the park. Success in Yosemite has sparked rewilding projects across the US west, including a movement to remove dams from rivers to restore spawning grounds for fish. Time and time again, we see that if we can give nature enough room, she comes back.
This week we share stories about rewilding projects and how we are learning to consider the wild nature of a place to be one of the highest priorities in how we steward that place.
These projects are indeed PROOF that we are heading in the right direction. And yet, I want you to consider that in order for the planet to recover it’s natural balance, we will have to confront our basic western dualistic view of man and nature. Francis Bacon is one of the philosophers who set us out on our present course with his dominion over nature argument. “Let the human race recover that right over nature which belongs to it by divine bequest.” (Novum Organon, Bacon).
With this divinely granted dominion over nature, we have tamed the wild world and have forced it to do our bidding. We cannot rewild the world with the same mindset. Rather we will need to rewild ourselves and relinquish our dominion over nature. We need to contemplate the questions: Who would we be without our planet? Can an Earthling be separate from Earth?
Humans are a wonderful and unique emergence in the history of this planet. We are an expression of the amazing complexity of life. And we are not separate from the planet on which we live.
At Bold.ly NOW we imagine a future where we celebrate our culture and our wildness without having to reconcile the two. We imagine a future where human presence is a net benefit to the Earth and the innumerable species of life with which we share it.
The first step to restoring the balance in your life is to learn about rewilding and contemplate our human place in the global ecosystem. We hope you join us as we work to generate a thriving future for humanity and the wild world.
INSIDE THIS WEEK:
PROOF of a Thriving Future for Humanity
• Positive World News
• Organizations and Initiatives that are Generating a New Futures
What We’re Watching:
• David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
What We’re Reading:
• A New Path: eral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life
What We’re Listening to:
• The Complexities of Large-Scale Conservation
Proof of a Thriving Future for Humanity
In the News:
Organizations Generating a Thriving Future
Global Rewilding Alliance – WILD Foundation
Since 1974 WILD has put respect for nature at the center of the global leadership community and simultaneously stewarded coordinated action for the protection of Earth’s life-giving biodiversity.
WILD combines on-the-ground projects with subtle activism and policy interventions to achieve lasting protections for Earth’s wildlife and wild places.
In one current campaign, WILD is mobilizing one hundred million voices around the world in defense of nature, so that global leaders are empowered to take the next step to ensure our survival: protecting half of Earth’s land and seas.
What We’re Watching : David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
In every moment of every day, there’s a choice to be made. If we all make our choices with nature in mind, then together we’ll find a way to live in balance with the natural world. After all, we are nature, and we need it to survive.
During his lifetime, Sir David Attenborough has seen first-hand the monumental scale of environmental change caused by human actions. Now for the first time, he reflects on the devastating changes he’s witnessed and reveals how together we can address the biggest challenges facing life on our planet.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet shares Sir David Attenborough’s greatest story yet – his witness statement for the natural world and vision for the future for rewilding the planet.
What We’re Reading – A New Path: Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life
To be an environmentalist early in the twenty-first century is always to be defending, arguing, acknowledging the hurdles we face in our efforts to protect wild places and fight climate change. But let’s be honest: hedging has never inspired anyone.
So what if we stopped hedging? What if we grounded our efforts to solve environmental problems in hope instead, and let nature make our case for us? That’s what George Monbiot does in Feral, a lyrical, unabashedly romantic vision of how, by inviting nature back into our lives, we can simultaneously cure our “ecological boredom” and begin repairing centuries of environmental damage. Monbiot takes readers on an enchanting journey around the world to explore ecosystems that have been “rewilded”: freed from human intervention and allowed―in some cases for the first time in millennia―to resume their natural ecological processes. We share his awe, and wonder, as he kayaks among dolphins and seabirds off the coast of Wales and wanders the forests of Eastern Europe, where lynx and wolf packs are reclaiming their ancient hunting grounds. Through his eyes, we see environmental success―and begin to envision a future world where humans and nature are no longer separate and antagonistic, but are together part of a single, healing world.
What We’re Listening to – The Complexities of Large-Scale Conservation
Tom Butler shares how the Chacabuco Valley has successfully been rewilded from overgrazed ranching lands to a thriving ecosystem through the utilization of privately protected areas. We explore the differences between restoration and rewilding and the complex world of large-scale land conservation and wildlife restoration.
BOLD.LY NOW is a movement of co-creative up-levelers who have a burning desire to step free of our collapsing world & take the most daring leap forward to a thriving world.
PROOF is a Generative Futures Initiative Project
The Generative Futures Initiative
Generating a Thriving Future for All