I’ve been labeling some of my projects as such, in my head at least, because I think it sounds much more romantic than restoration, especially on the heels of rewilding campaigner George Monbiot’s eloquent TED talk and 2013 book, Feral. Monbiot echos what David Foreman, who helped establish the conservation think tank, Rewilding Institute, has been preaching since the 70’s.
Doesn’t it conjure up feelings of vast openness, mountains, wind in your hair and the howl of wolves in the distance? I like to think of myself as a “rewilder”, not a landscaper, but the reality is that most of my projects are islands that will never be connected and never resilient from a top down approach initiated by top predators; keystone concepts preached by rewilding advocates.
Nope. It will be a cold day in hell when wolves are allowed to roam the fragmented woodlands of Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
“The absence of top predators appears to lead inexorably to ecosystem simplification accompanied by a rush of extinctions.” –John Terborgh et al. in Continental Conservation
Obviously I can’t include “re-introduce wolves” into my woodland restoration proposals. It’s even tough to propose “install a 10-foot tall fence around perimeter,” given the expense and sometimes aesthetic compromise. I do what I can though, adding Deer-Out armour to newly introduced spring ephemerals, trees and shrubs. I’ve made it a habit to leave a hand-held spray bottle of the stuff with instructions to “holster your spray bottle and take it with you on your walks, spraying new plants every few weeks or so to prevent deer browse.”
They usually laugh at the holster reference, but I tell them that they’re protecting their investment.
Hardly rewilding, but the best I can do in the absence of wolves.