Building upon earlier conservation efforts, Michael Soule and Reed Noss (1998) expanded upon term, “rewilding,” to include the following features: “large, strictly protected core reserves, connectivity, and keystone species…(or) the three C’s: cores, corridors, and carnivores” (p. 22). They published an article in “Wild Earth” in 1998 in which it was explained that ecosystems are connected by trophic cascades, a “top-down” principle, where the keystone species’, namely large predators, presence affect viability of that ecosystem. The logos presented in this argument is as follows: if you take the predator out of the equation, then the prey can multiply unimpededly, consuming more food, and thus changing the vegetation and landscape of an ecosystem and by that same token, chasing other non-predatory, yet still key species out of the habitat (Soule & Noss, 1998, p. 23). As a new, but whole-hearted supporter of the rewilding effort, it was this domino-effect logic that effectively persuaded me that this was a worthy cause to undertake. After reading this claim, it seems to me to be common sense that by disturbing the natural order and balance, everything else in an ecosystem would be thrown into chaos. The explanation for rewilding that Soule and Noss gave in their article eventually became the central principles for which the Rewilding Institute function on.
Even with celebrity endorsements, information spread by the Rewilding Institute only goes so far. With the term being so new, it has yet to gain as much media attention. After doing a quick Google search, I’ve realized that with the plethora of conservation endeavors, only someone looking specifically for rewilding would be able to find it. The Rewilding Institute, is in my opinion, the leading resource for rewilding, however, quite unfortunately it’s reach is limited to within conservation circles. The Sierra Club, with its much wider audience, has been better at promoting rewilding to the masses, especially once they partnered with writer and political activist, George Monbiot for an interview entitled, “The Elephant in the Shopping Mall” (2014). In this interview, Monbiot is discussing his newest book, “Feral” (2014), in which he uses a great deal of pathos to convince readers about how urgently we need to act to conserve and preserve the environment, chiefly by rewilding. Monbiot has gone on to give talks around the globe, most notably at a TED Conference in 2013, where he talked about having a case of “ecological boredom”, this feeling of scratching at the cage walls that he has been able to remedy only with devoting his life to rewilding (Inglesias, 2014). How powerful and yet still relatable is that feeling? Even if we don’t realize it, I think almost everyone has felt this at least once in their lives – the feeling that you need a change of scenery. I, for one, feel this quite often, which is why I can usually be found trying to escape the city on any days that I have off.
With the impending U.S. Presidential Race, the environment and our role in it is being discussed more than ever. However, you probably won’t hear much about rewilding during the stump speeches or debates. This is mainly due to the fact that it’s origins are so contemporary and those “big players,” are not as far reaching or well-known as I would like them to be. However, when they do get an opportunity to speak, they are able to frame the discussion as one for positive change and rehabilitation for our damaged ecosystems. As rewilding continues to gain traction, this will be fundamental in seeing this effort come to fruition.
Inglesias, L. (2014, July/August). The Elephant in the Shopping Mall: Q&A with Author and Rewinding Activist George Monbiot. Sierra Magazine.
Monbiot, G. (2014). Feral. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.
Soule, M., & Noss, R. (1998). Rewilding and Biodiversity: Complementary Goals for Continental Conservation. Wild Earth, 22-23.
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