Rewilding and regenerating imply that in the past there was a specific time when everything was in balance and self-sustaining, whereas nature tends to suggest instead that everything is in constant flux and conflict.
But can there really be one point in time that everyone involved in rewilding and regenerating is aiming for?
Presumably, it is in the last few hundred years, rather than in the Jurassic era, for example, but are they looking at what was around in the early twentieth century, Victorian era, or Tudor times? There are nineteen farmland bird species in the UK that are dependent on agriculture in order to thrive; should we change the landscape and discount them in favor of other species that predate their evolution and dependence on human activity?
A 200-year-old garden and parkland will have seen many phases and changes of style in its time. Which period does the landscape gardener choose to emulate and take the current garden design back to? How can we include references to the whole of the garden’s past?
When looking at our own gardens, if we do very little and allow nature to do what it wants, what grows naturally will depend on many factors. What previous owners planted, what neighbors have grown, and what visitors at least as far back as the Romans imported when they arrived in the UK in ad 43-410. What is “native” now in our area will be very different from what our ancestors would have recognized.
Justice for Japanese Knotweed
Japanese knotweed is deemed an enemy of many environmentalists. It is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's worst invasive species. Funnily, it is mostly despised because its “(...) invasive root system and strong growth can damage concrete foundations, buildings, flood defenses, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites. (...) (It) overgrows buildings and other structures, (...), and damages paved surfaces.” [Wikipedia: Reynoutria japonica. cited on 22/7/2022]
It seems as if the plant is striving to dominate the man-made world and bring it back to the world’s balance. But that isn’t acceptable in a society in which humankind is somehow thought to be above nature.
As Sophie Strand notes - isn’t it interesting how the spread of Japanese knotweed correlates with the increase of Lyme disease? [mythandmycelium.com, a course by Sophie Strand and advaya.co] Especially because Japanese knotweed seems to be more effective than antibiotics when treating Lyme, according to research published in Frontiers in Medicine. [Evaluation of Natural and Botanical Medicines for Activity Against Growing and Non-growing Forms of B.
burgdorferi by Jie Feng1, Jacob Leone, Sunjya Schweig, and Ying Zhang]
The Earth will still be here even if we won't be
It is high time we took a step back to get rid of the myopic perspective and deeply understand that the ecosystemic mechanics go way above our understanding. The Earth’s complexity goes beyond supercomputers and genius IQ scores. It takes care of itself. It always strives for balance.
The biome has always been in equilibrium. The dynamic kind. The one that understands that change is the only constant. When one factor dominates, nature enhances the other to restore the paradoxical state - the flux of nature.
We need to challenge our inner ecofascists. There is no going back, mankind has touched every single inch of the Earth by now, in one way or another. Romanticizing the past as an ideal natural state is nothing but naive. And there is no point in fixating on that mission. Instead, what we can do is work towards a future where we dance to the rhythms of the natural flux. And be its stewards.