Scientific American's website posted an excerpt earlier this week from Caroline Fraser's new book "Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution."
Fraser's book comes at on opportune time as we kick-off the International Year of Biodiversity (see my post from 1/5.) She explores the concept of "rewilding" as antidote to the Sixth Great Extinction, a period of burgeoning loss of plant and animal life that scientists and conservationists warn is upon us. But instead of doom and gloom, Fraser has a positive outlook, seeming to trust in education and the ability of rewilding to improve not just the environment, but also the economy and society.
Fraser references the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, and writes about the "global experiment" humans are currently engaged in -- one in which we upset wildlife corridors, destroy natural habitat and separate systems that have evolved interdependently.
One way to reverse the current extinction rate, (now estimated to be more than 1,000 times greater than it would be without human influence), is to implement this idea of rewilding, described in Fraser's book. Conservation biologists Michael Soule and Reed Noss originally fleshed out the idea in a 1998 paper, dividing "rewilding"into three categories: Cores, Corridors and Carnivores. Fraser's book looks at those three in depth, but the basic idea is to preserve natural areas (cores), connect them (corridors), and maintain populations of predators (carnivores) that naturally evolved to keep ecosystems in balance.
Fraser writes with a surprisingly positive outlook, despite the sobering news. As we move forward, human disciplines will have to meld along with the natural corridors we are working to reconnect. Conservation biologists increasingly find themselves working with environmentalists, who are working more with grassroots groups and governments. Environmental stewardship is becoming an accepted link to economic well-being, job security, public health and overall quality of life.
Check out Caroline Fraser's book here.