The rewilding option

When biodiversity decreases, inevitably, disruption and loss to vital ecosystems occur. Biodiversity recognizes the variety of life on earth at all its levels, from genes to the ecosystems that sustain life. The earth has a purpose for all of its living organisms, and the loss of any--whether plants, fungi, insects, coral reefs, trees, or anything else--has long-term trickling effects. Consequently, the natural process of rewilding is becoming more widely recognized. The idea behind wilding is that nature, given the opportunity, will heal itself.

"Three-fourths of the world's flowering plants… depend on animal pollinators to reproduce."

The kind of overwhelming human disruptions the environment has endured over the last several decades has led to definitive strains and shrinking natural resources. Actions like deforestation and construction lead to habitat loss for countless species. According to the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, "Three-fourths of the world's flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world's food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce." When humans modify landscapes, they trigger climate change. More carbon emits into the atmosphere when vegetation, which normally retains carbon, is removed. Rewilding restores the native elements of an environment by leaving it uninterrupted. It also removes the surplus carbon from the air and reestablishes natural resilience against floods, droughts, wildfires, and other threats.

Every new construction has its cost. An article by the Canadian Wildlife Federation states, "The noise and light from ongoing construction can disrupt species' feeding or breeding behaviors, and the disruption of the land can divide large habitats into smaller ones, impacting species that rely on spacious habitat."

Fallow deer

Organizations like Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania have helped to reintroduce native bison back into the wild. Wild European bison were driven to extinction in the early twentieth century by hunting and habitat loss. In Romania, bison were unseen for nearly 200 years. Because of the work of many local organizations, in 2014, bison were reintroduced to the Southern Carpathians area (a group of mountain ranges located in Southern Romania).

You may wonder, "What's the big deal about the bison's reintroduction?" The reintroduction is a rewilding effort because bison serve many purposes in their grazing and roaming activity. Their grazing is at different heights, which provides nesting areas for birds. The bison also roll around and pack down soil in depressed areas called wallows. Those wallows eventually fill with rainwater and become breeding pools for amphibians, and sources of drinking water for other wildlife. Plants also depend on the wallows as well.

Wisent (European Bison

For rewilding to work there must be tangible support for the effort. Rewilding areas are not always pretty. Green spaces dedicated to rewilding will not be manicured. There will not be rows of flowers and neatly edged grass. Landscapes may even appear wild, unkempt or messy, but the goal is for nature to restore itself and its varying ecosystems, which ultimately is a beautiful thing.

This summer, the UN announced several sustainable development initiatives. One initiative is the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. The goal is to see measurable restorative results by 2030. The UN Environment Programme's website outlines their goals as wanting to "prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean." Further stating, "It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction." Population growth, lifestyles, and the use of land resources have led to undeniable impacts but rewilding is a very viable option to get wildlife and the earth's natural resources back on track.