As I was walking through farmland and woods out the back of our house today, it struck me just how divorced most of us are from the real ‘wild’. Wilderness is something that is in short supply in many of our environments. And it is also something that is in short supply in our lives in general.
In being contemporary humans, we often forget that we are the animals we are. Rewilding ourselves means reconnecting with our core beings, reconnecting with nature – both our own nature and the nature of our habitats. It means reconciling ourselves to the impacts we have (both positive and negative) on our environments, and taking steps to be shaped by them, as well as shaping them.
Rewilding in terms of environments is something that is often misunderstood. We may think of a forest or woodland near home as ‘wild’, when in fact even seemingly natural and relatively untouched environments have been shaped by people for centuries if not millennia.
This is something brought home to us when we realise that native people shaped Yosemite valley, for example,conser long before Muir and other conservationists came along. And here in the UK, our wooded landscape was shaped by Bronze Age peoples long before the deforestation of the middle ages changed landscapes more dramatically.
So just as we have to ask ourselves what it really means to rewild a landscape, so too we need to find our place within these newly rewilded environments. We need to go back to fundamentals, and think about what it means to be human. Food – something we all need – should, in my option, sit at the heart of conversations on this issue.
Food forests/ forest gardens, no till polyculture production – contemporary small-space, closed-loop vertical growing solutions… all these are potentially important parts of the picture when it comes to the future of humanity. But without considering wild spaces, and their preservation and restoration, we cannot hope to reclaim a place in the natural balance of this planet – nor can we hope to reclaim the balance in our own lives.