Hannah’s selection was inspired by a talk given at the University of Edinburgh by George Monbiot – which is itself documented online.
Rewilding is a highly debated topic that has convincing arguments both for and against implementation. When deciding whether rewilding will occur, one of the most important things to consider is the motive behind it. In this talk, George pushes the idea that we should rewild the world for humanity, in order to ‘grant us freedom’. I believe this motive is questionable, and perhaps biased towards the limited members of the population who regularly enjoy the outdoors and wild places. Dramatically altering a landscape should be done for a better reason than to grant freedom to humans who have destroyed the wild in the first place. We should be rewilding, for example, to restore the natural system to a landscape to relieve the need for human intervention, such as deer culls.
While we broadly agreed with George’s interesting view on how we regularly destroy in order to conserve, such as through burning, and how odd this idea is. This followed onto a discussion about the word ‘conservation’ and how to conserve an ecosystem or a species implies that we are attempting to keep it the same. In reality we are not able to conserve things in the natural world because change is too rapid, and perhaps the field of conservation science needs a new name which incorporates the idea of adaptation.
We identified one of the major flaws in George’s talk to be ignorance to the value of certain ecosystems and small species, claiming that conservation of which ‘shows how limited out aspirations have become’. George displays a strong dislike of heather moorland ecosystems, while seemingly ignoring the important ecosystem services such as carbon storage, water filtration and flooding reduction in addition to the many species that heather moorland provides a home for, including black grouse, field voles, merlins and adders. The lack of large mammals and top predators in a heather moorland ecosystem appear to mean it is deemed useless and unenjoyable to George.
Based on this talk we decided that George’s opinion on rewilding appears unscientific, biased and idealistic. His dream of extreme ecosystems and top predators all over the world is not realistic and raises the debate on the importance of conserving multiple species, small and large, even if they are not considered exciting and wild.