Why Rewilding Matters (Chris Searles)
Greetings friends -- Why does Rewilding matter?
Wildernesses = Our Life Support Systems. Well, first of all because Earth's life support sytems, its wild ecosystems, have been radically reduced in size and functionality in the last few decades. Below is a mapping from 2014 of roads and human development on Earth's lands. Consider that most of this development has taken place since 1970.
Rapid Destruction of Earth's Wildernesses. Current scientific consensus estimates it took us ("anatomically modern humans") 200,000 to 300,000 years to reach a population of 1 Billion people on Earth. That happened in 1804, when Thomas Jefferson was being reelected president. Then, 123 years later, we doubled our number to 2 Billion.
Today, 91 years later in 2018, we have grown to more than 7.6 Billion humans on Earth. Our rapid expansion, and the way we are expanding, is rapidly stripping Earth's biosphere of the biodiversity and other ecological resources required to maintain global biological productivity, aka. to maintain production of our life support services, as noted in this 2016 study:
Even as climate activists fight to protect life itself by stopping global warming, life itself is being consumed and destroyed at catastrophic rates -- simply due to recent, rapid human expansion (not climate change, not yet).
So what do we do? Well, Re-Wilding is a HUGE part of the solution. One nutshell to explain the recent, rapid demise of life and biospheric resources on Earth is simply that human civlization has been consuming and destroying life without replenishment.
As master ecologist Geoff Lawton says, "Nature depends on its waste products." We need to redirect the biologically-based waste products of Civilization back to our land and water ecosystems in ways that restore biodiversity, fecundity, and bio/eco stability.
We also need to stop destroying what remains of Earth's wilds. (I have a project focused on protecting Earth's most valuable ecosystems: biointegrity). We must first and foremost protect Earth's ecosystems, our life support systems. We must treat our life support systems like we treat our kids: providing the best possible present and future we can for them.
The ONLY biosphere in the known universe is this one, the Earth's. No other planet appears to be supporting life, at any level of development, as far as we can tell at this time.
Our planet's remaining old growth wildernesses are the most valuable things Civlization has, as they provide the greatest concentrations of life support services, ecological security and biological resiliency.
We cannot continue without life support systems, the Earth's wild ecosystems. As far as civilzation, commerce and technology are concerned: ecosystem protection, reconnection, rewilding and restoration are where it's at.
However, ecological rewilding is rare at this exact moment in human history. We're just beginning! What is more common: people are feeling called to rewild themselves, to reconnect to the immutable truths of Earth's wilds and wild creatures. People are yearning for a greater connection to the non-human living things all around us.
This is cause for optimism.
Rewilding Our Hearts. One great example of the paradigm shift towards reconnection is the recent emergence of the Wild Church Network. An amazing group of Christians, many of whom contribute to this site, Wild Church is led by clergy taking "church" outdoors and loving it.
Another example is the maintenance of the Still Waters Retreat Center by my family church, First Baptist, in Austin, TX. The congregation was given this property about 20 years ago. Last Sunday we had our annual church picnic at Still Waters. The weather was perfect and the property, aka. the biodiversity living in this place, was in full-green blush.
Still Waters is a 70 acre tract at the southern end of Austin, now being used for religious, contemplative, personal, professional, health, and family retreats. It's appeal is its peacefulness and beauty, brought on and sustained by the biodiversity that's here, in particular its trees, open fields, and vegetation. Still Waters is an oasis for reconnecting to nature, for rewilding the soul.
Here are a few site photos from Still Waters. The "park" has two retreat buildings, loads of seating and outdoor gathering places, a labyrinth, and several walking and meditation trails.
We are in the midst of a new kind of revolution -- the rewilding of our souls. Time spent with nature is scientifically proven to be good for mental and emotional health, but clearly people are drawn to the spiritual aspects as well. And as we engage in the Creation, in nature and "the outdoors," in this most satisfying way of increased awareness, fulfillment, balance, and spiritual renewal, let us vigorously engage the necessity of rewilding the Earth for our own sakes.
We must rebuild Earth's ecological functionality and stability for all in order to provide a bright future for ourselves and our loved ones.
Here is some data on the ecological necessity of rewilding:
- Biodiversity and biodiverse ecosystems create our life support services (oxygen, water, food, carbon sequestration, etc., etc.). Recent losses of biodiversity and ecosystems have been extreme. Addressing those extreme losses via ecosystem protection, restoration and rewilding is our most comprehensive climate solution. (1)
- About 75% of land-based ecosystems have been broken or destroyed, mostly in the last 90 years as human population has ballooned from 2 billion to over 7.6 billion (2).
- Around 90% of fisheries are in crisis (3). Earth's most productive living systems are under extreme attack. (4,5)
- Even without climate change, recent human impacts on Earth's living systems are dangerously close to destroying necessary biospheric assets. (6)
How to be part of the solution: Visit my project, biointegrity, to learn about supporting the most global ecosystem protection solutions, and get involved locally whether at your place of work, residence, worship, or etc., to begin rewilding your soul and life support systems. Indulge in being the solution.
(6) google "Planetary Boundaries"
Chris Searles is acting editor and co-founder of AllCreation.org. Read more of his works here.