Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution

Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution

by Caroline Fraser

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A Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book of the Year

If environmental destruction continues at its current rate, a third of all plants and animals could disappear by 2050-along with earth's life-support ecosystems, which provide food, water, medicine, and natural defenses against climate change.

Now Caroline Fraser offers the first definitive account of a visionary crusade to confront this crisis: rewilding. Breathtaking in scope and ambition, rewilding aims to save species by restoring habitats, reviving migration corridors, and brokering peace between people and predators. A "methodical, lyrical" (Sacramento News & Review) story of scientific discovery and grassroots action, Rewilding the World offers hope for a richer, wilder future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312655419
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 11/23/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,234,804
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Caroline Fraser's first book, God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church, was selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book Review Best Book. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Outside magazine, among others. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Rewilding the World

Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution

By Caroline Fraser

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2009 Caroline Fraser
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2452-8




The proof was a wolf. In June of 1991, a five-year-old alpha female, perhaps searching for new territory, embarked on a two-year foray, roaming over five hundred miles through the Rockies, an area of around 40,000 square miles, twelve times larger than Yellowstone National Park. As scientists were learning, this is what wolves do.

She was wearing a radio collar fitted with a satellite transmitter, and Paul Paquet, a Canadian zoologist studying wolf movement for the World Wildlife Fund, was watching her. Paquet found and collared her in the rain, so he named her Pluie. He and a colleague, biologist Diane Boyd, tracked her with growing amazement as she inscribed an enormous circle, starting near Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, heading south into Montana, skirting the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, swinging past Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington, and then trekking north into British Columbia, making another pass at Banff. Paquet told a reporter, "We thought she was on a pickup truck for a while, she was moving so fast."

Pluie's journey provided key evidence substantiating the theories on which rewilding is based. In the early 1990s, rewilding as a conservation method was still in its formative stages, but Pluie helped move it from a collection of hypotheses to a specific set of recommendations. A perfect illustration of the cores-corridorscarnivores idea, Pluie's traverse showed a top predator traveling from one core area to another, using wilderness corridors to do it. Her journey made national parks look minuscule, highlighting their inadequate size, isolation, and fragmentation. Although Pluie utilized parks such as Banff and Glacier, she clearly needed a space many times their size, a space a dozen times the size of Yellowstone.

The corridors she used were passageways of remaining forest linking large wilderness areas. Some — particularly in the Bow Valley — were bisected by major highways and railroads, forming dangerous bottlenecks or breaks. Pluie's travels let scientists identify the movement corridors, which, once located, could potentially be protected or restored by fencing off highways and providing safe overpasses for wildlife.

Pluie's journey, Paquet told me later, "made very clear what kind of geographic scale we should be thinking of. We were able to show pretty definitively that these theoretical corridors that we imagined were actually there and being used." Now that scientists could watch elusive species like wolves traveling across the landscape, they could begin planning to manage, maintain, and even restore the necessary cores and corridors.

Pluie also demonstrated the contribution of "umbrella species," as biologists called wide-ranging animals: protecting the vast spaces they required could provide shelter for countless additional species. If conservationists were able to put in place a series of big enough protected areas linked by corridors, they would be protecting not only wolves but everything else under that umbrella.

In 1993, Pluie lost her collar, which was found with a bullet hole in it. The wolf herself was shot dead two years later, along with her mate and several pups. Her fate matched that of most wolves, bears, and other large animals in today's West: shot or hit by cars, trucks, or freight trains. She was lucky to have survived as long as she did. One of Paquet's graduate students enumerated the toll that traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway near Banff National Park had taken on wolves:

In the last 15 years or so, 27 percent of the known wolf deaths have been from the railway, and 60 percent were on the highway. Just 5 percent were natural. ... The Bow Valley used to have three packs. Now it has one. In 1996, three of the four pups born to this pack were lost to the highway. The next year, none of the five pups born survived, and we know at least one was hit on the railway. During 1998, the pack had no pups and was down to three members.

Such figures — the rapidity with which an entire population of wolves can become roadkill — suggested the urgency of the need to find a way around these bottlenecks. Almost as soon as Pluie had run her course, the data gathered about the places she went and the routes she took were pressed into service to design a wilderness network. Most importantly, Pluie's movements inspired the first major rewilding project designed around cores, corridors, and carnivores, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Pluie's story, Paquet later said, "was the founding story of Y2Y. Really, the whole idea evolved out of it."

But we get ahead of ourselves. Before the projects, before Pluie, before the proof, there was a theory. Like Newton's falling apple, Pluie acted as inspiration and demonstration, but scientific journeys begin with questions, not answers. The origins of rewilding — the conservation method designed to slow a wave of human-caused extinctions — are rooted in the most important ecological theory of the twentieth century, a theory that examines the forces governing extinction, the theory of island biogeography.

The Trouble with Islands

Nature is not a closed system. Since 1930, when a British botanist coined the term ecosystem to define the complex interrelationships between plants, animals, and microorganisms and the physical elements they interact with — rocks, soil, water, air — scientists began to recognize that wilderness cannot be preserved by sealing it off. To seal off is to interrupt processes that make life possible: natural selection, predation, competition. Because ecosystems contain such an extraordinary diversity of interactive species and processes, because they are not static, they have proved notoriously difficult to classify and study. Wrenched by larger environmental events — climate change, storms, fires, floods — they are capable of shifting, changing, evolving, and disappearing. Only within the past century have we begun to understand the laws that govern the evolution and transformation of ecosystems.

A momentous advance in understanding such systems came in 1967, when Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson published The Theory of Island Biogeography. Wilson was thirty-seven when this epochal work appeared and would eventually become the most impassioned elder statesman of conservation, writing Pulitzer Prize–winning volumes about natural history and the need to protect biodiversity; indeed, his books popularized the term, a compression of "biological diversity." But in his early thirties, he was still a young Harvard biologist, albeit the world's greatest taxonomic expert on several subfamilies of ants in Melanesia, having spent years collecting in New Guinea and the islands of Fiji, as well as in Australia and South America. Over the years, he had noticed a pattern: the number of different ant species on any given island seemed to correlate to its size.

As told in Wilson's autobiography, Naturalist, and David Quammen's history The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions, Wilson discussed this pattern and other issues in the emerging, genetics-driven field of population biology with MacArthur, a young University of Pennsylvania mathematician and ecologist legendary for his ability to discern patterns from masses of data and to construct sophisticated mathematical models illustrating general principles. The theory Wilson and MacArthur shaped is an explanation of how natural forces act to control the number of species populating a given area. Paradoxically, the theory that launched a worldwide movement to protect enormous continental areas was inspired by the smallest of land units, the island.

As MacArthur and Wilson noted at the outset, an island "is certainly an intrinsically appealing study object. It is simpler than a continent or an ocean, a visibly discrete object that can be labelled with a name and its resident populations identified thereby. In the science of biogeography, the island is the first unit that the mind can pick out and begin to comprehend." But as they intuited, islands also provided useful information about the conditions that humanity was creating everywhere, even within continents. Islands were not only land masses surrounded by water; they were also isolated habitats surrounded by development. The principles of insularity — reduction and fragmentation — were going to apply "to an accelerating extent in the future" as habitats were "broken up by the encroachment of civilization."

To understand why size and distance were related to the number of species populating an area, the authors examined two crucial ways in which species rise or fall on an island: immigration and extinction. Using data on ants and other species, they worked out that, as new species arrived, a similar number of established species was becoming locally extinct, in a process of turnover. They set forth a mathematical model illustrating how an island's area and its distance from other islands or mainlands regulated the balance between arrivals and displacement. Their model allowed calculation of a number representing equilibrium — predictable and stable — that was based on those factors of area and distance. If the key factors changed, so did the equilibrium. According to the mathematical model, altering the factors of area and/or distance would cause the number representing equilibrium to reset. If a theoretical island grew smaller or more distant, the number reset downward; if it grew larger or closer to other land masses, the number reset upward. Although I have drastically simplified this explanation, leaving out discussion of additional factors (climate, location relative to ocean currents, initial species composition, etc.), the essence is this: the smaller the island and the more distant from other places, the fewer species it supports. As a rule, a 90 percent decrease in the area of an island results in a 50 percent decrease in diversity.

Equilibrium itself, and the species it represented, could vanish when an island or fragment became so small and isolated that immigration stopped occurring. This was known as "ecosystem decay" and could be seen in one illustrative example: MacArthur and Wilson reproduced a series of maps showing the reduction and fragmentation of a woodland in Wisconsin between 1831 and 1950; the maps clearly showed the progressive diminution of wooded remnants to tiny scraps that could support little variety of flora or fauna. As evidence supporting their theory, the authors looked at the famous volcanic eruption of Krakatau Island in 1883, which snuffed out all life under a sterilizing layer of searing pumice and ash. Although there were no comprehensive data on the flora and fauna prior to the eruption, there were for the subsequent "recolonization episode," in which insects, birds, and mammals returned to an island that had lost two-thirds its total area. MacArthur and Wilson calculated that the number representing equilibrium for bird species, based on its new area and distance from other islands, should have settled at roughly thirty species within forty years. The historical data on recolonization seemed to confirm their calculation.

The last chapter of The Theory of Island Biogeography described how further testing might be done by reproducing "miniature 'Krakataus'" — eliminating all species or all of a particular class of organisms (insects, fish) from a series of small islands or lakes, either "manually or by poisoning," and monitoring their return. Wilson and one of his graduate students, Daniel Simberloff, re-created the sterile island experiment, performing an exacting census of all species of insects on several tiny mangrove islands in the Florida Keys, then hiring exterminators to tent and fumigate them. Over the following year, Simberloff monitored their return. "To my absolute delight," Wilson later told Quammen, "we watched the numbers of species rise to what was obviously equilibrium within about a year." The experiment confirmed the theory as it related not only to area but also to distance: the most remote of the experimental islands was the slowest to return to equilibrium, and with the lowest number of species.

The havoc that equilibrium would play in small, remote protected areas was immediately obvious to biologists. By extrapolation, the smaller and more isolated an area is, the farther it is from the nearest wild area — the more islandlike it is — the more likely it will exhibit the characteristics of an island, including reduced diversity of species and a higher rate of extinction. Quammen distilled the issue of scale to a single, unforgettable metaphor. What do you get when you take a beautiful Persian carpet, he asked, and cut it into thirty-six pieces? Thirty-six separate carpets? Or thirty-six worthless, fraying scraps? Substitute ecosystems for carpet, he suggested, and you begin to see the problem.

In a 1972 paper inspired by the equilibrium theory, the ornithologist Jared Diamond, who had done extensive fieldwork in New Guinea, directly addressed how equilibrium would affect protected areas that were too small and too islandlike. He observed that the government of that country was in the process of setting aside small rain forest "tracts" as preserves. While the intentions were good, Diamond wrote, the outcome was likely to be the opposite of what they planned. The governments of New Guinea and other tropical countries were creating islands within islands, surrounded by "a 'sea' of open country in which forest species cannot live." Diamond argued that the diminution and fragmentation would cause a "relaxation to equilibrium." The size of the preserves would inevitably trim the number of species they protected to a lower number than the forests initially held, undercutting their very purpose. In yet another paper, Diamond set forth initial suggestions for the size and design of nature reserves, the first to be based on the equilibrium theory. Large is better than small, he argued, and reserves grouped together or, better yet, connected to one another would support more species.

Given the evidence already available, many biologists were quick to agree that when it comes to preserving ecosystems, large is better than small, connected is better than isolated, and whole is better than fragmented. But some were resistant, arguing against a rush to judgment, suggesting that protected areas in the real world might prove vastly more complex, each with unique characteristics that might affect the outcome. The intellectual debate over the subject became so vituperatively colorful that David Quammen made it a central focus of The Song of the Dodo. The arguments were heated, he explained, because what was at stake was nothing less than saving the planet: "At a time when humanity was cutting forests and plowing savannas at a rapid pace, when habitat everywhere was becoming fragmented and insularized, the equilibrium theory embodied minatory truths. It was not just an interesting set of ideas — it was goddamned important. If heeded and applied, it might help save species from extinction."

The most prolonged and violent debate to come out of island biogeography, a veritable "pissing match," as one biologist put it, was the debate over "SLOSS": "single large or several small." Are single large protected areas better than several small ones? Jared Diamond strongly defended the idea that a single large reserve would tend to preserve more species. Large reserves, he argued, would preserve large carnivores, which need more space; they would provide more protection in the event of extreme climate change. Others thought that the theory had yet to be proved and, ironically, the most adamant critic of the "single large" camp was Daniel Simberloff. He pointed to cases in which officials in Costa Rica and Israel, in a position to make decisions about conservation, nearly threw out plans for reserves that seemed too small and therefore — or so they thought — useless. Small parks might target hotspots of endemism; the conviction that big is better, Simberloff said, is "a cocktail-party idea" with the "trappings of science."

The SLOSS debate eventually wound down, as more and more scientists and conservationists moved toward the big-is-better-than-small hypothesis. Looking around, they could see that national parks, protected areas, and reserves in the United States and around the world were small, fragmented, isolated. As anyone who has driven to Yosemite or Yellowstone knows, parks have indeed become islands of protected land in a sea of development — motels, shops, restaurants, malls, homes, roads — that washes right up to the entrance gates. In addition, many were poorly placed to preserve biological diversity. "National parks," conservation biologists argued, "are essentially square. Few conform to watersheds, mountain ranges, or other ... features that define natural regions. Most parks are too small." Moreover, those dating back to the nineteenth century revealed the tastes of their creators in their emphasis on aesthetic grandeur — Yosemite's cliffs or Glacier's peaks — a criterion now derided by biologists as "rocks and ice," habitat notably short on biodiversity.


Excerpted from Rewilding the World by Caroline Fraser. Copyright © 2009 Caroline Fraser. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Predicta Moth 1

Part I Cores, Corridors, and Carnivores

1 Rewilding North America 17


The Trouble with Islands

Rewilding in the Real World

"A Corridor in People's Minds"

2 The Problem With Predators 43

The Green Fire

The Problem with Predators

"Buy More Cats"

3 Corridors In Central and South America 62

Categories of Concern

The Path of the Panther

Fragments of Brazil

4 Reconnecting The Old World 79

The European Green Belt

A Problem Bear

The Rebirth of the Neusiedler See

Reclaiming Romania

The Accidental Corridor

Part II An Africa Without Fences

5 Peace Parks and Paper Parks 103

Corridors with Leverage

From Penitent Butchers to Paper Parks

"An Africa without Fences"

6 The Great Limpopo 129

The Elephant Problem

The People Problem

The Giriyondo Gate

The View from Cape Town

7 The Lubombo Transfrontier 156


Breakthrough at Ndumo

8 Looking For Kaza 174

"It Looks Great on Paper"

Night Shift to Namibia

The Demon Croc

"The Elephants Are Going Home"

Part III Community Conservation: "Very Tricky"

9 The Conservancy Movement 203

Namibia's Experiment

Kenya and "the Government's Cattle"

The Cattle Ranch That Became a Conservancy

In the Northern Rangelands


10 The Tiger Moving Game 241

Royal Rhinos and Community Forests

The People's War

Goats, Guns, People

Looking for Tigers at Tiger Tops

The Cautionary Tale of Corcovado

Part IV "Sustainable Conservation"

11 Resurrection Ecology 281

From Curtis Prairie to Fresh Kills


Shifting Baselines and Pleistocene Rewilding

12 Costa Rica's Thousand-Year Vision 300

Large-Scale and Long-Term

The Parataxonomists

13 Regrowing Australia 321

Extreme Extinction

A Million Acres a Year

The Puzzle

Living in the Link

Conclusion: Only Connect 342

Notes 355

Acknowledgments 378

Index 383

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Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
bfertig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Conservation is a messy business. Protecting animals is really about finding ways to take care of people ¿ local jobs, food, and goodwill. And it¿s going to take a lot more room than anyone thought or is ready to acknowledge whether concerned about coyotes/wolves, buffalo, elephants, tigers, or any other large charismatic macrofauna. These are the take home messages Caroline Fraser reports in her journalistic style from the front lines of the global conservation movement. Fraser takes an in-depth look at a number of large-scale projects on most of the continents. Connecting corridors, peace parks, preserving predators, and even reintroducing extinct species. These are big ideas that take a lot of space on the ground, and Fraser skillfully introduces her readers to these projects and assesses their relative success/failure at conserving land and helping locals through travels that take her to most continents. In general, this is a thoughtful and honest look at the issues, organizations, programs, and people in place tackling this complex process. She looks at the science, politics, social aspects, and historical perspective that will hopefully enable the global conservation movement to move forward. Sometimes she takes on too much ¿ spending much time in Africa while skimping on other areas (like high latitude areas). The most disappointing aspect, though hardly ruining the fascinating reporting, was the concluding chapter which only gave a very cursory glance at the main themes through the book, didn¿t fully make a case for the vital components necessary for successful conservation practices, and even introduced yet another important species (prairie dogs) which would have been interesting to pursue in more depth elsewhere. That being said, overall the book was quite interesting and informative, and it was well written and researched journalism.
chelseagirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Rewilding the World, Caroline Fraser provides an accessible, engaging introduction to the concept of "rewilding"- of restoring sufficient areas of wilderness that various species of wildlife have enough room to engage in their normal behavior. Focusing on the notion of "island biogeography," Fraser clearly explains the limits of current conservation programs (national parks and otherwise) and demonstrates what needs to be done.The book then takes on a global scale, moving from North America to South and Central America, Europe, Asia, and particularly Africa, surveying various wildlife preservation efforts. Fraser examines what has succeeded, and the very many causes of complete or partial failure. The book's ultimate message is that, despite the many complications along the way, this work is well worth doing, and that the limited success of programs that currently exist is only a starting place.
skullfaced on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Caroline Fraser gives us an accessible look into the worldwide process of rewilding in "Rewilding the World." The book is easy to read, provides a good number of notes, and covers a number of topics crucial to the rewilding movement. Her emphasis on working with local people when developing parks and rewild places is refreshing. While not a page-turner, the book is easy to read and suitable for anyone interested in the topic of conservation.
lorax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Caroline Fraser's Rewilding the World picks up where conservation-oriented books leave off. The first chapter provides a crash course in the concept of keystone species and the need for large, interconnected areas with buffer zones to preserve these species (which are frequently large carnivores that require extensive ranges -- see William Stolzenburg's Where the Wild Things Were for an excellent overview of these issues). From there, she moves into discussiosn of worldwide attempts not only to preserve wilderness areas around the world, but to "rewild" damaged areas by carefully managed re-introduction of native species and removal of invasives (contrary to naive belief, damaged ecosystems generally will not restore themselves simply by leaving them alone, unless there are large undisturbed reservoirs nearby to draw from). The various stories are both interesting and instructive -- the need to start small and ensure local support reveal themselves time and time again as Fraser describes why grandiose schemes like the Central American "Paseo Pantera" tend to fail while smaller-scale linkages between existing protected areas, when local populations not only support the process but see the benefits from it (for instance, ensuring that ecotourism dollars go to the local communities rather than American or European-run tour companies) have much higher success rates.This is a surprisingly hopeful book. While "rehabilitation" of damaged landscapes may never be able to recover the full range of biodiversity of undisturbed wilderness, it can do better than I had previously thought.
themagiciansgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was initially charmed by the title of this book. An image of a giant Johnny Appleseed skipping across the continents sprinkling wolves, elephants, tigers, frogs, birds, monkeys and spiders came to mind. But rewilding the world isn't necessarily manually replacing all the natural elements that man -- through chemicals, hunting, agriculture and/or "progress" -- has destroyed. Rather it is letting nature rewild itself. Letting the earth heal in its own mysterious and infinetely complicated way. And apparently it does. Or at least can, with a jump start from us. But doing that isn't as easy as it sounds. It requires cooperation from some key areas: geographical, political, emotional and human, at the very least. But it's not impossible. And the key, according to the author, is to think big, start small and involve the people who actually live on the land.The most startling idea I encountered in this book was that we may have crippled the earth so thoroughly that "we may be erasing the process of evolution itself." That's profoundly frightening. But this book is not all doom and gloom. It's about hope and progress and the beginnings of success. It's a step forward. It serves as an introduction to the profound idea of rewilding and offers encouragement and information to those who may already know of or be a part of the process.The book is divided geographically and includes maps of existing and proposed parks and corridors. There is an extensive section on the continent of Africa, including the dilemma of balancing extreme humanitarian issues with pressing environmental ones. I especially enjoyed the section where the author accompanied two married graduate students as they collected data on crocodiles in Namibia. This is a comprehensive, sane and well-written account of ongoing and future global conservation efforts.
Nulla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A plethora of books have been written about the degradation of nature at the hands of man. Not so many have been written about attempts to preserve and conserve the ecologies of our planet. Dedicated to repairing as well as preventing further damage, these movements have been largely overlooked by the average person.Caroline Fraser's Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution fills some of the gaps in this knowledge. The book documents Fraser's witnessing of some of the efforts to preserve and, in many instances, to bring back ecosystems which are on the brink of destruction. She has traveled extensively with wildlife biologists and conservationists to record and examine the damage done by politics, wars, agriculture, industry and other of man's occupations, as well as the efforts of individuals, institutions and governments to reverse or mitigate this damage. The scope is worldwide; serious attempts to bandage the planet are in progress from North and South America to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The emphasis is on conservation rather than preservation. Largely, preservation takes place in bounded areas such as parks; places where people have limited access and the fauna is expected to stay put. This does not always work out very well since lions and tigers and bears don't read maps. Conservation, on the other hand, is an attempt to link discrete areas of habitat in order to establish natural boundaries for animal territories or migrations. It also recognizes that there needs to be a solution for the wilderness/people interface; somehow, we need to find a way to share these areas with wildlife. Conservation has to make sense for everyman, not just the educated and well-heeled. Fraser offers many examples of where rewilding has been a success, but has then been dealt setbacks because of political or economic issues.This is a fascinating book. In many ways, it offers hope for the future, but it also reveals how close we are to a tipping point ecologically, and how difficult it is to deal with man's self-interest.
ranaverde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A thoughtful and wide-ranging book, Rewilding the World takes a look at the newest development in conservation: "re-wilding." Taken broadly, the term encompasses a range of activities from establishing wildlife corridors between protected zones, transnational parks, community development, and restoration and reclamation of damaged areas. The overall message that comes through is that preserving the world's biodiversity is going to require more than just isolated parks, walled off from humans, and a more creative, long-term solution. (One of the people Fraser interviewed compares such efforts to a marriage, rather than the "one-night-stand" approach of traditional, single-issue conservation.) Such long-term solutions rest heavily on community support, involvement, and education, particularly in unstable areas. As Fraser lays out her case studies, taking us to nearly every continent, the message comes through again and again that human beings are a necessary component of the world's ecosystems, and that human suffering and ecological damage are inextricably linked. To solve such problems requires concentrated efforts on a variety of political, economic, and social fronts, not merely ecological (daunting though that alone is).Although the stories she presents include dismaying failures as well as cheering successes, Fraser does an admirable job teasing out the larger lessons to be learned from both. Anyone interested in environmentalism, environmental justice, or just being an engaged citizen of the planet, will want this book on their shelves.
VisibleGhost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this as a follow-up to [Where the Wild Things Were]. Wild Things is mostly about theories and how those theories have changed over time and are still changing. Fraser's book is a world tour of conservation efforts from from near every corner of the globe. Conservation biology is not the management of animals and plants, it is the management of people. Because people are involved, the successes and failures of conservation projects vary widely. Some never get off the ground. Others are opposed from special interests from dozens of stakeholders. Some thrive for decades then come crashing to complete halts and reversals. Most of the time it's three steps forward and 2.99 steps backward. Sometimes, it's three steps forward and five steps backward. It's hard not to despair if you like lifeforms like tigers, wolves, and orcas.Rewilding covers many of these efforts. It is interesting/important reading but I wouldn't call it pleasant reading. The bright spots are that there are still those making attempts to control diversity loss. Even small ones that seem like a drop in the bucket do add up. Fraser's book is informative and cautiously optimistic with a little bit of encouragement dished out along the way. Theory is abstract and can be beautiful even when coming to undesired conclusions. Reporting on conservation biology reality is messy, sometimes ugly, and non-abstract. It was a good read on a tough subject.
quilted_kat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rewilding is a relatively new term in the world of Ecology. It refers to the connections required to connect wildlife refuges and National Park systems to each other. These connections are essential to ensure the survival of large animal species, who require much larger territories to roam in than the parks currently provide. Rewilding the World thoroughly investigates and explains ecological movements from the Y2Y corridor in North America. It describes the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone Park and jaguar in Southern Arizona and why the reintroduction of apex predators is essential to balance the ecosystem. It takes you to Africa to explore the removal of fences to restore elephant, hyena, and lion habitat, and the Green Belt in Europe. It explains the reasons behind the protest to conservation efforts by ranchers, indigenous peoples, and government. The writing is interesting to read and holds your attention, and the facts are backed by over 20 pages of notes at the end of the book.
sarradee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rewilding is a process which will save the planet and all of it's creatures by restoring habitats, replacing migration corridors and teaching humans to live in concert with predators. The idea is fascinating and I started this book with much interest but also afraid that it would have the same message, ie. we're doomed, but without any clear solutions. Instead I found a fairly readable account of things that conservationists have done or are doing with varying degrees of success. The author discusses both the positive changes, and the negative and also discusses what should be done in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OtisL More than 1 year ago
Fraser offers a well-researched account of efforts to invigorate wildlife populations around the world. I found the book to be an interesting explanation of the importance of biodiversity and an exploration of the complexities and difficulties faced in conservation efforts. It is good to see that there is progress being made and we have some hope for the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recently, as scientists learned more about the things that different species need to live, we discovered that many of the things we were doing to try and save species and preserve ecosystems were not helping. Populations of many species were still shrinking, despite our efforts, and more species were becoming more and more endangered. Caroline Fraser's new book, Rewilding the World, tells of groups of scientists and conservationists who asked why our efforts were not working and how they could be improved. Trying new methods of research, they reached the conclusion that many of our efforts to set aside preserves were not effective. Preserves were often too small and too isolated. Many species, especially the important keystone predators were being forced into spaces too small to sustain them. Fraser takes us around the world, looking at efforts to rebuild wild ecosystems and give species the habitats they need to survive. Fraser uses leading scientists and environmentalists to explain the cutting-edge science and political action that has begun to rewild important parts of the earth and help to rebuild the environmental services that sustain us.