Inspired by rewilding's hopeful message, today is the perfect time to look ahead to a brighter, more nature-filled future.
Today, people across the planet will celebrate the first ever World Rewilding Day. Organised by the Global Rewilding Alliance (of which Ecosulis is a founder member), this landmark occasion will see rewilding initiatives from six continents come together to raise awareness of rewilding and our need for it. It is no coincidence that March 20 coincides with the vernal equinox - what better time to commit (and recommit) ourselves to the revitalisation of wild nature than the first day of spring?
But as we celebrate World Rewilding Day, it is worth reflecting on how we arrived at this threshold in the rewilding continuum. While ecologists first identified the pivotal role of rewilding in nature recovery 30 years ago, rewilding's move into conservation has only just begun.
Many suggest that rewilding signifies a new ambition in conservation, corresponding with a desire to move beyond a defensive focus on nature protection to a proactive agenda of ecosystem restoration. This certainly aligns with the message and objectives of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which officially kicks off on June 5.
While there is clearly some truth to the above, Ecosulis Nature Recovery Lead Dr. Paul Jepson has suggested that rewilding signifies something deeper and more fundamental - namely, the emergence of an entirely new environmental narrative. This was the subject of his opening presentation at the incredibly popular Rewilding Symposium, which took place in December 2020.
First outlined in a scientific paper in 2018, Jepson has labelled the new rewilding-related narrative "Recoverable Earth". Positive, pragmatic and progressive, this narrative contrasts greatly with the doom and gloom stories which denoted the conservation movement of the mid to late twentieth century. These talked of the collapse of nature and the catastrophic consequences arising from it, and called on governments to regulate the destructive and immoral ways of business and society. Changing the perspective completely, the inspirational and upbeat stories of rewilding are widely characterised by narrative components that describe processes of awakening, action and reassessment, leading to the recovery of natural and social wellbeing.
Schematics depicting the "Finite Earth" narrative of the 1970s (left), and the "Recoverable Earth" narrative (right) associated with rewilding.
A positive environmentalism
Rewilding's hopeful message of rekindled emotion, positive action and new direction also chimes with contemporary realities. All our lives have been touched in one way or another by Covid-19 - by confinement and lack of contact with others, anxiety and bereavement. During these difficult times, nature has been the one constant that we can rely on to provide mental and physical support.
As spring begins, we are all looking ahead to a better year - to rebuilding our lives and enhancing our wellbeing. Rewilding's positive environmentalism is the perfect fit as we all look to "build back better" after the pandemic. For many of us, the last year has led to a reevaluation of priorities and a desire to find a new balance based on a heightened appreciation of nature and the positive ways that it touches our lives. The launch of World Rewilding Day is an ideal opportunity to share, learn from and be inspired by hopeful stories of recovery that are seeing people and nature heal and grow, right across the world.
At Ecosulis we support both the philosophy and practice of Recoverable Earth as we work to realise our clients' nature restoration ambitions. With the launch of our new graduate rewilding internship programme coinciding with the first World Rewilding Day, we are also looking ahead to a brighter future - a future where both people and nature are healthier.
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