Lucy Purdy explores how the concept of ‘rewilding’ could be applied not just to the natural world, but to ourselves
Above: Rebecca Hosking, who has helped transform Village Farm into a wildlife haven. Photo by Village Farm
By Lucy Purdy
Jun 1, 2016
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver, poet
We don’t often think of ourselves as being domesticated. The word falls easily from our human lips when we talk of animals and plants, but are we ourselves also tame? As the natural world has been eternally altered by mankind’s intervention, have we curtailed human nature in the same way?
The concept of rewilding has surged in popularity since George Monbiot published his book Feral in 2013. In it, the writer and disillusioned environmentalist searched for “enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding”. His vision calls for less human intervention in landscapes and ecosystems and the restoration of natural processes, including the return of big animals such as wolves and lynx. With notable successes in the US, along the former Iron Curtain in Europe and the ‘imposed’ transformation of Chernobyl, the environmental rewilding movement captured imaginations and continues to develop.
“We live in a shadow land. A dim, flattened relic of what there once was,” Monbiot has said. “Rewilding offers us this fantastic opportunity to start allowing systems to restore themselves: stepping back, and letting nature get on with it.”
Just as ecological rewilding succeeds by letting nature do what it is designed to do, could we take the same approach towards ourselves? What would happen if we were more aware of and driven by our own dynamic processes? Is this even possible in today’s world?
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