Rewilding at Many Scales: A Book Review Essay

By John Miles Dave Foreman, in his landmark 2004 book Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century, makes a convincing case that “To make protected areas more effective, conservationists must now (1) work on very large landscapes, probably continental in scope, and (2) undertake ecological restoration based on rewilding.”[1] He advocated a science-based approach to protecting and creating a network of “core wild areas, wildlife movement linkages, and compatible use lands to meet habitat needs of wide-ranging species, maintain natural disturbance regimes, and permit dispersal and reestablishment of wildlife following natural events such as fires.”[2] Dave was thinking big, though of course he was working at all landscape scales. In 2018, he has been working on a local rewilding project in the Sandia Mountains near his Albuquerque home. Since he wrote this book, much thought and action has been invested in pursuing this vision and some progress made on large scale initiatives like Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y), Yellowstone to Uintas (Y to U), and Algonquin to Adirondack (A2A)..

In this essay I address the question of whether rewilding should be seen only as a large-scale effort or whether it should be pursued at many scales… My thinking about this was stimulated by my reading of recently published books: Joe Riis, Yellowstone Migrations (Seattle, Braided River, 2017); Matthew Kauffman, et al, Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming Ungulates (Corvallis, Oregon State University Press, 2018); Ben Goldfarb, Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2018); and Scott Freeman, Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2018.) All of these books describe, in my view, rewilding. They may not all involve Foreman’s core wild areas, but they describe work based on science and efforts to enhance wildlife movement across landscapes. They promote land use compatible to the needs of wide-ranging species. Some of these species, like elk, pronghorn, and mule deer in the Yellowstone region, and salmon in the Pacific Northwest, are very wide-ranging. Beavers may not range widely but as a keystone species enhancing habitats, they help the wide rangers and restore natural processes on the land. Read entire article.

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Wild and Scenic Rivers: The St. Croix River

By Alison M. Jones The St. Croix River runs through Wisconsin and Minnesota as a valuable upstream tributary to the Mississippi River, one of No Water No Life’s (NWNL) 6 case-study watersheds. In 1968, the St. Croix River was among the first 8 rivers added to the new Wild and Scenic River System, making this a 50-year anniversary of that designation. (The other rivers added at that time were the Clearwater, Eleven Point, Feather, Rio Grande, Rogue, Salmon, and Wolf Rivers.)

Two other segments of the St. Croix were added to the Wild and Scenic River System in 1972 and 1976. A total of 252 miles of the St. Croix River have been designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: 193 miles for their scenic value and 59 for their recreational value. To read more and to see the photos click here.

Wolfpacks Manage Disease Outbreaks

Wolves are known to be lazy hunters. Consequently, they will always choose the easiest prey, meaning young, sick or old animals. This preference for easy prey significantly influences the population dynamics and compositions of the preyed animals, for example deer or wild boar. In particular, during disease outbreaks the wolf plays a crucial role to keep the number of infested animals at bay. Data from Slovakia underlines the wolf’s important position as the doctor of the wild. Read more from the European Wilderness Society blog. Click here.

Review of Fire Storm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future

Review by John Miles

While I was reading Edward Struzik’s Fire Storm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future, the Camp Fire in Northern California roared through 100,000 acres in two days, destroying many structures and killing, at this writing, 80 people with more than a thousand missing. Natural disasters like these are attributable to weather and not necessarily climate change, but warming oceans and extended droughts are causal factors in such events. Reading of the consequences of sea level rise and megafires, I could not help but think about how many of us humans are in denial and cannot summon the will to do anything to mitigate climate change and is effects.

Edward Struzik is a Canadian science and environmental journalist who has lately focused his work on the impact of climate change in Canada and the Arctic. His most recent book, Fire Storm, is a hard look at what seems a new normal for wildfire in the northern latitudes – megafires, which are defined as fires of over 100,000 acres. He opens his book with a riveting account the May 2016 Fort McMurray fire in northern Alberta that burned nearly a half million acres, destroyed 2400 buildings, and required the evacuation of 80,000 people. Luck was with the people of Fort McMurray and its surroundings, and no one died, but this fire is considered the worst natural disaster in the history of Canada. Struzik writes:

The important thing is that no one died in the fire, people keep telling me over and over again. They are right, of course. But they are also wrong, because loss of life is not necessarily the best way of measuring success. Fort McMurray was the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. It could have been much worse if so many things – wind, demographics, safety training, quick and creative thinking, heroism, and luck – hadn’t aligned in the manners they did. The town dodged a lot of bullets. Read more.

China to Host WILD 11 in 2019

Vance Martin, President of the WILD Foundation, and leaders from the Global Times, People’s Daily, and the China Institute of Strategy and Management participate in the January 20, 2018 announcement that China will host the 11th World Wilderness Congress in Beijing 2019.

The 11th World Wilderness Congress (WILD 11) will be held in Beijing in late 2019. As China comes to terms with the high ecological cost of rapid industrialization, people around the world are also waking up to the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction. At this singular moment in Chinese and world history, China’s commitment to strengthen international leadership for the protection of wild nature through the WILD11 process promises groundbreaking opportunities for East-West and global coordination on conservation challenges.

The first World Wilderness Congress (WWC) was hosted by South Africa in 1977. Since then the WWC has inspired and facilitated the development and implementation of practical outcomes that protect wild nature while meeting the needs of human communities. A sampling of outcomes over 40 years include initiating the process leading to the creation of the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility (GEF); founding the International League of Conservation Photographers; creating new and strengthening existing protected nature areas; and facilitating the creation of the first transboundary conservation area between Mexico and the United States (total area of some 1.5 million hectares, over 3.5 million acres); and many more. More details are available here>
As the Chinese and international Secretariats are created, details will be formulated on both the lead-up events and the exact dates, goals and programme of WILD11 itself. Preliminary information and the channel to become involved is available at http://www.wild11.org/>

U.S. National Public Lands Day

Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and general health. This year’s event, on September 22, 2018, will focus on restoration and resilience of our public lands.

There are many ways to participate in National Public Lands Day.

You can visit a national park for free

You can take part in a volunteer work project.If you volunteer on this day, you will receive a fee-free day coupon to be used on a future date.

You can share your favorite outdoor activity on social media channel with the hashtag #NPSVolunteer, #FindYourPark and #NPLD!

National Public Lands Day is organized annually by the National Environmental Education Foundation, in cooperation with Department of the Interior, Department of the Army, and Department of Agriculture. The National Park Service is one of the event’s largest providers of sites and volunteers. Other participating federal agencies include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, and US Army Corps of Engineers.

Residences for writers in Switzerland

Applications are now closed for 2019 session

Seven residential modules available to writers at the Jan Michalski Foundation in Switzerland.

The Jan Michalski Foundation in Montricher, Switzerland features an original group of seven residential modules that are available to writers, translators, and other creative individuals for residencies of varying lengths. Hanging from the openwork canopy surrounding the Foundation, these living spaces are called “treehouses” and offer ideal conditions to anyone looking to start, continue, or put the final touches on a writing or translating project.

Residences are open to all types of writing. Priority is given to writers and translators but the residences are open to other disciplines where writing is at the heart of the project. Residencies can be granted for individual projects or projects in pairs.

In 2019, a percentage of the residences will be dedicated to nature writing, a form of fiction or creative non-fiction that raises awareness of nature, prepares for a sustainable way of living, and helps to better understand socio-environmental interconnections and the impact of human actions on nature.

Mara River Basin in Eastern Africa

Alison Jones, ILCW member (USA) and founder of No Water No Life, has been in East Africa surveying the recent activity on the Mara River. She reports that Kenya is committed to protect 70 new “water towers” (headwater forests) of the Mara and other Kenya Rivers to stop soil erosion, illegal logging and drought from further degrading these transboundary lifelines of water. Kenya will increase its forest cover from its current 7.2% (below UN standards) to 15% by 2020 to insure clean and sufficient water flows in the Mara and other Kenya Rivers. Earlier plans were to expand forest cover to merely 10% by 2030. Kenya will give farmers incentives to increase forest cover by planting indigenous trees and high-value fruit trees, as well as retaining trees that deliver multiple ecosystem services.

Happenings at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

The Lewa-Borana area in Kenya is working with the Il Ngwesi, a community conservancy that adjoins Lewa on the north, in partnering on rhino protection. Il Ngwesi’s 22,000 acres added into a rhino conservation partnership could hold at least 150 black rhinos. This safer habitat for all wildlife is a more secure landscape for people and sustainable tourism opportunities. Lewa is also working to provide more opportunities for Women through the Lewa Micro-Credit Programme. They are partnering with two groups: Women’s Microfinance Initiative(WMI) and KIVA. Support for Education—through their Giving Tuesday campaign Lewa will engage 50 students to attend their first year of secondary school in 2018. The Big Give donations will facilitate 10 school groups of 50 children each to visit Lewa for a conservation experience. And Guest Numbers are up—the tourism arm of Lewa contributes at least one third to their operations. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since. 2013. For more information about Lewa and all they offer, click here.