This Creation’s Corner is a bit longer than previous ones. It is important. Bear with me….
What an awesome opportunity awaits humanity including you and me! Rewilding? What is it, and why is it necessary? Rewilding is defined by Webster as “an effort to increase biodiversity and restore the natural processes of an ecosystem that typically involves reducing or ceasing human activity and often the planned reintroduction of a plant or animal species and especially a keystone species.”
But why is rewilding necessary? For the readers of Creation’s Corner, stewardship has been central to our thinking. As stewards, we see our efforts as joy-filled ministry to participate with our Lord in maintaining Creation’s fruitfulness. Rewilding’s goal is to allow Creation and its myriad species to live fruitfully and abundantly. If accomplished, the Endangered Species Act would no longer be necessary. Species would cease being threatened by human activity. But we have a long way to go! Currently over 1700 species in the U.S. are listed as endangered or threatened.
When I was born, the world population was approximately 2.3 billion. Today it is over 8 billion. As previously discussed, this has resulted in the triad of extinction (Creation’s Corner #18). However, the rate of global human population growth is slowing with much of the developed world now experiencing declining populations, including China, Europe, Russia, and Japan. Without the current immigration, the U.S. population would be in significant decline. The unfolding 6th global extinction episode is upon us. It is time to act!
Rewilding is at two levels – the first is restoring natural processes at the ecosystem level; the second involves restoring individual plant and animal populations. Let’s consider ecosystem level work first. In Creation’s Corner #13, I briefly mentioned the United Nation’s 2022 COP 15 agreement to protect 30% of the world surface by 2030. Currently, 13% of our U.S. land area is protected (national and state parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, etc.) To protect 30%, additional lands totaling twice the size of Texas will need protection. Is it possible? Absolutely. Will we be successful? That will depend on us. Think globally and act locally. “We” have an abundance of land. In addition to the current protected areas, our National Forests represent 8.5% of U.S. land area while the Bureau of Land Management Land is approximately 10% of our land. That does not include State-owned forests etc. Shifting some of these areas to ecosystem preservation rather than multiple use will need to occur. A large amount of land is also owned privately. Here, the work of land trusts such as Whidbey-Camano Land Trust (https://www.wclt.org) will be crucial. WCLT has already protected more than 9000 acres of our county land. Some of this is to maintain its use for agriculture, but much of it is protected at the ecosystem level. WCLT depends on people like you who financially support their work and/or have conservation easements placed on their land.
Rewilding at the species level has been on-going for years. The California Condor, which was extinct in the wild, has now been successfully released and is again reproducing in the wild. In other cases, rewilding has involved re-introductions into areas where the species is locally extinct but within the historic range. The highly successful introduction of Golden Paintbrush at Pacific Rim Institute is an excellent example. More than 40,000 of these beautiful plants are now blooming in PRI’s restored prairie – the second largest population of this species in the world!
But other proposed reintroductions are receiving significant push-back. Restoring a beautiful native plant or a cute chipmunk is one thing, but a major predator is another. Currently, U.S. Fish and Wildlife is plans to release grizzly bears into the North Cascades (https://www.fws.gov/project/north-cascades-grizzly-bear-restoration-eis). Public input is now requested. The plan is to release up to 25 bears over the next few years with the hope that natural reproduction increases the population to approximately 200 individuals – the number considered a minimum viable population. Significant meetings, mostly east of the Cascades, opposing the re-introduction have taken place. Not in my state is the mantra! The species once was fruitful throughout the mountains of the west. It is now all-but gone. Let your voice be heard. Who will speak for the bears? Similar discussions are taking place in the state of Colorado where gray wolf reintroduction plans are to be completed by Dec. 2023 with up to 10 wolves being released by the end of 2023. The last gray wolf in Colorado was shot in the1940s. In June 2021, a female thought to have come from Wyoming gave birth to six pups. It is the beginning!
What are your thoughts regarding rewilding? How can you personally be part? Could you financially support Whidbey Camano Land Trust? Can you write to your government representatives, encouraging them to act on behalf of Creation? Could you plant a butterfly garden or establish native plants to support the local animal population? According to Isaiah 55:12, when we seek the Lord and follow His ways “You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Blessed to be a blessing. Creation waits….
— Joe Sheldon
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