Rewilding: What it means to me

We should all care about the earth and the environment.  This is our home after all.  It was because of my personal desire to study environmental issues and work to solve them that got me interested in political science. Of the strides being taken to save the planet, so to speak, there was one word that has really struck a chord with me. That word is rewilding.

Rewilding is a term that was first introduced by the conservationist and activist, Dave Foreman in the early 1990s that describes a practice aimed at restoring and protecting the natural processes of wilderness areas. I first came across it after listening to a TED Talk by writer and activist, George Monbiot, who mentions two definitions in which I would like to utilize as lenses with which to view rewilding through.

The first definition is “the mass restoration of ecosystems.” In his talk, Monbiot discusses how, by reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park, not only was the deer population regulated, but the land itself was altered and became more stable. Less deer in the park, and in specific places, such as the valleys, allowed for tall trees to grow back on once sparce land. Stronger trees, anchored into the soil, fortified river banks and kept them from collapsing which actually changed the physical geography of the park for the better.

The second definition that he speaks of is “rewilding of human life.” This is not to be confused with giving up all modern amenities and moving to a hut in the jungle. Rather, it is the idea of taking a step back, sometimes literally, and letting nature run its course.

Throughout this semester, I would like to further explore these two definitions as well as look at the different types of ecological criteria and research that support as well as some that argue against the process of rewilding. I want to know if rewilding is a viable solution to the plethora of environmental problems that we face. Maybe it’s too late and we need to find other alternatives. Certain sub-topics I wish to explore are our relationships with animals, both domesticated and wild and how that affects the world, food chains in different ecosystems, as well as extinct flora and fauna and look at different efforts to reintroduce them and whether such a thing is even possible. I especially want to explore the Gaia theory; that everything in the world in connected and has the ability to self-regulate, as the basis for this is an integral part of rewilding. I hope that through my blog I can target and reach out to other young people because we are the stewards of this earth and we should leave it better for the next generation than it was given to us.

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