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Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the…

Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution (2009)

by Caroline Fraser

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  1. 73
    Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators by William Stolzenburg (lorax)
    lorax: Ideally you'd read Where the Wild Things Were first, but in either order they complement each other very well.

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I was eager to read this book after reading a review of it, and I wasn't exactly disappointed, but I read it in bits and pieces over the course of several months and I think that reduced its impact on me. Fraser travels around the world to investigate "rewilding," the attempt in a variety of ways to reintroduce native plants and animals to areas that have been destroyed by human activities. The motivation behind this is the importance of healthy ecosystems to our own human health and livelihood, not tourism or do-gooding. As a journalist, she provides the science behind the activities in palatable doses, and mostly introduces the reader to people who are working on a variety of projects in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

One of Fraser's main points is that bridging the differences between local people who are trying to earn their livelihood and scientists and conservation supporters is central to making rewilding work. As she notes, "Conservation exposes the fault lines between property owners and the landless, between colonizers and indigenous people, between rich and poor. This piece of the jigsaw puzzle is not visible on the map. But it is, perhaps, the most significant piece of all." She illustrates situations in which the connections between local people and the conservationists have not been made and others in which involving local communities seems to be providing a way to make reserves work.

This is a readable book, with a lot of interesting information, and some valuable points about the significance of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems to human well-being.
4 vote rebeccanyc | Apr 5, 2011 |
I read this as a follow-up to [Where the Wild Things Were]. Wild Things is mostly about theories and how those theories have changed over time and are still changing. Fraser's book is a world tour of conservation efforts from from near every corner of the globe. Conservation biology is not the management of animals and plants, it is the management of people. Because people are involved, the successes and failures of conservation projects vary widely. Some never get off the ground. Others are opposed from special interests from dozens of stakeholders. Some thrive for decades then come crashing to complete halts and reversals. Most of the time it's three steps forward and 2.99 steps backward. Sometimes, it's three steps forward and five steps backward. It's hard not to despair if you like lifeforms like tigers, wolves, and orcas.

Rewilding covers many of these efforts. It is interesting/important reading but I wouldn't call it pleasant reading. The bright spots are that there are still those making attempts to control diversity loss. Even small ones that seem like a drop in the bucket do add up. Fraser's book is informative and cautiously optimistic with a little bit of encouragement dished out along the way. Theory is abstract and can be beautiful even when coming to undesired conclusions. Reporting on conservation biology reality is messy, sometimes ugly, and non-abstract. It was a good read on a tough subject. ( )
1 vote VisibleGhost | May 14, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A thoughtful and wide-ranging book, Rewilding the World takes a look at the newest development in conservation: "re-wilding." Taken broadly, the term encompasses a range of activities from establishing wildlife corridors between protected zones, transnational parks, community development, and restoration and reclamation of damaged areas.

The overall message that comes through is that preserving the world's biodiversity is going to require more than just isolated parks, walled off from humans, and a more creative, long-term solution. (One of the people Fraser interviewed compares such efforts to a marriage, rather than the "one-night-stand" approach of traditional, single-issue conservation.) Such long-term solutions rest heavily on community support, involvement, and education, particularly in unstable areas.

As Fraser lays out her case studies, taking us to nearly every continent, the message comes through again and again that human beings are a necessary component of the world's ecosystems, and that human suffering and ecological damage are inextricably linked. To solve such problems requires concentrated efforts on a variety of political, economic, and social fronts, not merely ecological (daunting though that alone is).

Although the stories she presents include dismaying failures as well as cheering successes, Fraser does an admirable job teasing out the larger lessons to be learned from both. Anyone interested in environmentalism, environmental justice, or just being an engaged citizen of the planet, will want this book on their shelves. ( )
  ranaverde | May 2, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Conservation is a messy business. Protecting animals is really about finding ways to take care of people – local jobs, food, and goodwill. And it’s going to take a lot more room than anyone thought or is ready to acknowledge whether concerned about coyotes/wolves, buffalo, elephants, tigers, or any other large charismatic macrofauna. These are the take home messages Caroline Fraser reports in her journalistic style from the front lines of the global conservation movement.

Fraser takes an in-depth look at a number of large-scale projects on most of the continents. Connecting corridors, peace parks, preserving predators, and even reintroducing extinct species. These are big ideas that take a lot of space on the ground, and Fraser skillfully introduces her readers to these projects and assesses their relative success/failure at conserving land and helping locals through travels that take her to most continents.

In general, this is a thoughtful and honest look at the issues, organizations, programs, and people in place tackling this complex process. She looks at the science, politics, social aspects, and historical perspective that will hopefully enable the global conservation movement to move forward. Sometimes she takes on too much – spending much time in Africa while skimping on other areas (like high latitude areas). The most disappointing aspect, though hardly ruining the fascinating reporting, was the concluding chapter which only gave a very cursory glance at the main themes through the book, didn’t fully make a case for the vital components necessary for successful conservation practices, and even introduced yet another important species (prairie dogs) which would have been interesting to pursue in more depth elsewhere. That being said, overall the book was quite interesting and informative, and it was well written and researched journalism. ( )
  bfertig | May 1, 2010 |
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  MsPibel | Mar 3, 2010 |
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"We are so close," Fraser says, and we require just a strong nudge in imagination and social engagement to make the rewilding dream real. With this lovely, necessary book, we step closer to that ideal.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805078266, Hardcover)

A gripping account of the environmental crusade to save the world’s most endangered species and landscapes—the last best hope for preserving our natural home

Scientists worldwide are warning of the looming extinction of thousands of species, from tigers and polar bears to rare flowers, birds, and insects. If the destruction continues, a third of all plants and animals could disappear by 2050—and with them earth’s life-support ecosystems that provide our food, water, medicine, and natural defenses against climate change.

Now Caroline Fraser offers the first definitive account of a visionary campaign to confront this crisis: rewilding. Breathtaking in scope and ambition, rewilding aims to save species by restoring habitats, reviving migration corridors, and brokering peace between people and predators. Traveling with wildlife biologists and conservationists, Fraser reports on the vast projects that are turning Europe’s former Iron Curtain into a greenbelt, creating trans-frontier Peace Parks to renew elephant routes throughout Africa, and linking protected areas from the Yukon to Mexico and beyond. 

An inspiring story of scientific discovery and grassroots action, Rewilding the World offers hope for a richer, wilder future.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Fraser offers the first definitive account about rewilding--a visionary campaign to confront the looming extinction of thousands of species by restoring habitats, reviving migration corridors, and brokering peace between people and predators. Traveling with wildlife biologists and conservationists, Fraser reports on the vast projects that are turning Europe's former Iron Curtain into a greenbelt, creating trans-frontier Peace Parks to renew elephant routes throughout Africa, and linking protected areas from the Yukon to Mexico and beyond.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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