Rewilding means setting aside natural environments to protect them from human development, disturbance or manipulation. It is the opposite of actively managing land. As well as a management approach for protected nature reserves, rewilding has applications in your own garden or local park.
When David Attenborough was a boy in 1937, there were 2.3 billion people on the planet and 66% of the Earth's surface was wilderness. Today, 84 years later, there are 7.8 billion people and just 35% of our planet is left to wilderness.
Why is wilderness important?
- Wilderness contributes to climate change adaptation by providing more resilient, interconnected ecosystems;
- It helps protect biodiversity by allowing co-dependent species to live out their full lifecycles symbiotically; and
- It provides 'ecosystem services' such as water filtration, flood mitigation, air scrubbing and carbon sequestration.
Without reduced wildlands, we lose these benefits and are left with a more unstable planet which is less resilient to the affects of humans and climate change.
Indeed, the Covid19 pandemic is arguably an affect of this loss already. As scientists reported in 2020, habitat destruction (like deforestation and agricultural development on wildlands) forces disease-carrying wild animals closer to humans. “Preserving habitats for wildlife and preserving our world is a human health issue,” said Tierra Smiley Evans, an epidemiologist at the University of California.
Today, just 35% of our planet's wilderness remains. Protecting that and restoring more will provide for a more resilient future.