On Landscape Action: Diversify!March 10, 2023
Climate change has generated a lot of talk (at last), and there are plenty of buzzwords flying about: ‘Rewilding’, ‘Restoring’ and so on.
It seems to me that these words start from the wrong place as they clearly imply looking back when we really must look forward.
What is the point of thinking about some imaginary phase of the world’s development and deciding that this is how we want things to be again?
We really don’t know exactly how things were at any point in time in the past, but we DO know that whatever was going on was very different to how things are now, so ‘rewilding’ or ‘restoring’ are the wrong answers. We need answers which will address the challenges facing us today and tomorrow, when there will be even more people around than there are today, all needing to be fed and all deserving of a reasonable comfortable and healthy life - just like us.
I am one of the fortunate ones in the world today, living in a place that has enjoyed economic success for hundreds of years. I know, as we all now do, that this comfort has been built on our ancestors’ ruthless exploitation of the land around them. Since the time the first human foot touches any place, those people seek out the means of their survival then progress to building for comfort. If that means cutting down trees or digging up minerals, so be it. But this means that in the small and overcrowded island of Britain at least, the idea of ‘rewilding’ cannot happen in any place where populations of people live and work, unless the word is used as a simple label to convey something other than its dictionary meaning.
I firmly believe that we must reset the balance. The effect of the ruthless exploitation of the places where we live in the name of ‘progress’, the destruction of land, sea and atmosphere have all gone too far. But ‘growth’ is the mantra of every government everywhere as it is a human condition to seek to improve our life, so the challenge is to find ways and means of growing human economic activity within ecosystems which will sustain us, other creatures and plants.
This is not a simple challenge and the solutions will not be simple either. I can only hope that among the billions of other people on earth there are enough who are doing things about it.