‘Rewilding’ our environments

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

George Monbiot, an investigative journalist, explores the definition of the term ‘rewilding’. Monbiot explains that rewilding has two definitions, one deals with the mass restoration of ecosystems via trophic cascades. The second definition deals with ‘rewiliding human life’.

James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis which conceives the world as a single self-regulating organism starting at the ecosystem level. That is, the interaction of organisms with other members of the ecosystem as well as the abiotic interactions within their habitat is what drives the processes that shape Earth’s biosphere. This idea becomes more understandable as Monbiot provides two examples of top predators and the effects they have on their ecosystem via top-down controls, but more importantly, the effects these predators have on the abiotic aspects of ecosystems such as physical geography of terrestrial habitats and carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere.

Monbiot provides a two examples of the effects of trophic cascades, one of these was the classic example of wolf reintroduction to the Yellowstone National Park in 1995; after being absent for nearly 70 years, their reintroduction had the most remarkable effect on the Yellowstone ecosystem. Not only did the wolves help manage the deer population, but they also had indirect top-down effects on net primary production and plant diversity which reshaped the entire ecosystem as well as its physical geography. For more on trophic cascades and how wolf reintroduction reshaped the Yellowstone National Park read the full paper: http://goo.gl/dF3f18

Watch the full talk:

For more from George Monbiot, visit http://www.monbiot.com

For more on ‘rewilding’ check out George Monbiot’s book “Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life”:  http://www.amazon.ca/dp/0670067172

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