“May Man and Beast
succeed to coalesce harmoniously,
in the forests, the seas, and land,
with ner’er a compromise from Nature.”
There is a tragic urgency in the world today for the necessity to compromise. Compromises for wildlife. Compromises for nature. But, above all else, the ability to compromise humanity’s own platitudes for the sake of Mother Earth. David Attenborough said it best, “Nature once determined how we survive, now we determine how nature survives.” Only by compromising will we find an equilibrium that will provide a solution to prevent critical mass extinction of wildlife and our own species.
Rewilding is a concept that has gained larger recognition worldwide because of the irreparable damage caused by humans to wild spaces that were once occupied by species responsible for healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. Conservationists understand the frailty of our existence and the connection between nature and mankind as synergistic. Therefore, if the basis of rewilding be to govern all natural processes, then it must be said that the basis of rewilding humanity be at its core.
What is rewilding and why do we need it?
Rewilding is a progressive form of conservation that restores and rebalances ecological areas that have suffered from overuse and abuse from humans, allowing nature to repair itself through natural processes with as little human interference as possible. It helps ecosystems rebuild diversity, structure and resilience. It is imperative for all life on Earth to have healthy, regulated ecosystems to counter the extinction crisis, preserve biodiversity, and help mitigate human-made climate change.
Rewilding consists of 3 major success categories: Cores, Corridors and Carnivores.
Cores are wild spaces linked up by corridors that enable carnivores, or other keystone species, to be reintroduced to areas where they once roamed, and now have the opportunity to flourish and regenerate ecosystems that were once part of the landscape. Corridors are natural or man-made strips of land connecting cores and serving as an avenue for wild animals to move across to reach food, water and cover. Increasing habitat fragmentation has put these essential movements at risk.
Large predators play a key role in regulating ecosystems. By connecting core areas through natural corridors, big predators can reach wild land networks.
Generally speaking, populations of wild animals are naturally regulated. There are two forms of food regulation. One form of is bottom-up control – meaning the flow of energy and nutrients from the soil through to the plants to the herbivores and on up to the predators. Another form is top-down control where predators control herbivores or other smaller predators (predation), which indirectly affects plants and even soils, referred to as a trophic cascade. Elephants are plant predators – a top-down control (food regulation) of plants and trees in the ecosystems in which they live. In the savannah elephants affect tree populations by eating small seedlings thus preventing trees from returning keeping the vegetation open. One of the most frequent causes of ecosystem collapse is the loss of top predators. Human hunting, urban development and agriculture has prevented regulation of herbivores by top predators by displacing or killing them causing a chain reaction in the food chain.
In any ecosystem, the loss of a keystone species results in a loss of biodiversity at other levels in the food chain. Elephants have decreased by nearly two-thirds largely because of human activities in the past 40 years and because elephants are a keystone species, this has greatly affected the ecosystems in which they live and all the other animals that depend upon them for survival. A principal driver for the decline and extinction of a species is the loss of their habitat. An important pillar of rewilding is the reintroduction of keystone species to areas that have been degraded in order to rebuild stability and diversity.
Rewilding is a complex and intricate process of re-establishing ecosystems to the original form had human disturbances not occurred. Long-term monitoring is essential in tracking rewilding programs. By having a long-term goal it allows scientists to track a systems progress and intervene if it deviates because of external threats such as poaching.
So, how does all this pertain to humanity and its role in the extinction crisis and what constructive tactics could we practice in order to assist the rewilding concept?
It is a disheartening fact to know that 96% of the mass of mammals on the planet today are humans and the livestock we have domesticated. Only 4 % is everything else, meaning wildlife is at the bottom of the barrel. 70% of all birds are domesticated poultry, mainly chickens. The speed at which species are disappearing is at least 100 times higher than the natural rate of extinction. At the current rate it will take millions of years for diversity to be restored to pre-industrial levels. How do we halt this tsunami?
If we were to say that humanity’s success is governed, largely, by 3 major success categories to include competence, commitment, and collaboration, we could discern and conflate the principles of rewidling with our own principles of humanity. We could also broaden the categories to include; compassion, conscience, culture, community, and co-existence.
From the beginning of time, mankind has been ingenious and competent enough to protect itself from extinction. But, we have reached a global population growth of 8+ billion people that are pillaging the earth’s resources at mammoth speed. A commitment to evaluate our consumption practices and place nature at the top of our list of collaborators is imperative for all survival on earth and a true test for humanity. Are we competent enough to succeed? Our sub categories of success, to include compassion and conscience, will need to place an emphasis on rewilding humanity as its primary goal in order for rewilding nature to be successful. Cultural norms will need to be reevaluated, and educational programs in communities and schools will need to be organized to teach the importance of co-existence with nature as our primary connection and means to survival. It is encouraging to know that some conservation organizations are focusing on the importance of rewilding and making it their primary objective.
We are bound, intrinsically, to nature. From the elephant that tramples copious amounts of seeds in the forest that, in turn, nourishes life in ecosystems, to the stars we gaze at with wonderment, in the night sky, that are part of our DNA. Compromises are urgent proponents to change that humans are irrevocably responsible for in order for rewilding to succeed and humanity to continue to exist.
The truth is, nature does not compromise. We must.
Below are some suggestions on how to ‘Rewild Humanity’ and top reasons why we should:
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction. If we all ate less meat, there would be more space for wildlife to flourish. Fewer crops would be needed to feed livestock. infographic: https://www.cowspiracy.com/infographic
- Analyze your lifestyle – if everyone lived like you would that be sustainable for our planet? Consider your water use, garbage production, and purchasing habits. “The Sustainable Minimalist” podcast. https://mamaminimalist.com/subscribe-to-podcast/
- Rewilding your garden gives back to nature. Here are a few suggestions – https://www.fernsfeathers.ca/main-blog/rewild-your-backyard
- Bees, butterflies and birds – Ways to bring pollinators back to your garden: https://www.skh.com/thedirt/attracting-pollinators-to-your-garden/
- Go natural – How to grow a better lawn for wildlife: https://bit.ly/42nwp89
- Learn more about rewilding by reading: “A Place Like No Other” author, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, with Rene Beyers director, Elephanatics https://bit.ly/40fCDoI
Top reasons why we need to rewild:
- To stop mass extinction
- To bolster biodiversity and stabilize climate on which we all depend
- To prevent natural disasters
- To increase economies of scale for communities
- To help people by securing high levels of biodiversity
President / Elephanatics
*All rewilding statistics listed above accredited to “A Place Like No Other”
author, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, with Rene Beyers, director, Elephanatics