It’s common to see wildflowers beautifully gracing a field along a stretch of highway. This type of natural garden requires no pesticides, less water, and mowing, and can survive through periods of drought or flooding. Bee lawns provide nutritional support for hundreds of species of wild bees, which pollinate wildflowers, fruit orchards, and the vegetables we grow. Also, over 30% of the food we eat comes from crops pollinated by honeybees.
“Rewilding,” also known as “ungardening,” is a process to restore an area of land to its natural uncultivated state. It’s a different approach to creating an outdoor space and not only requires less maintenance but also encourages native plants to grow. Think of the aforementioned bee lawns, wildflower gardens, or native vegetation. However, rewilding does mean a little more than just neglecting your space while waiting for something to magically grow. First, do a little legwork:
Research: Find out which plants are native to your area.
Remove Anything Invasive: Get rid of any invasive and non-native plants from the yard.
Initiate a Plan: Take things like pest control, pollination, and irrigation into consideration.
Appeal to Local Wildlife: Ensure there’s food, water, and proper habitat for any animals, birds, butterflies, or other species you’d like to attract.
Be Patient: Even though much of the maintenance in rewilding is low, it can take time (in some cases, years) for full colonization.
The goal of rewilding is to allow nature to develop and flourish on its own. Such ecosystems can help heal climate change by increasing carbon removal from the atmosphere. Since manicured lawns and cultivated flower beds are the norm for the average homeowner, there are ways to assist in the effort by supporting conservation organizations. The solution to fish and salmon in need of clean rivers, bison in need of grassland, or other wildlife in search of forests is rewilding. Reintroducing plant and animal species back into a certain environment can help struggling ecosystems self-regulate.
Most land degradation and loss of habitat are caused by humans. Rewilding helps rebuild ecosystem diversity, structure, and resilience which provides us with clean water and air. Yellowstone National Park, for example, experienced one of the most successful rewilding achievements after reintroducing grey wolves into the park’s ecosystem. The grey wolf was wiped out of Yellowstone during the late 1800s. Then, the elk population increased due to the scarcity of wolves to hunt them, leading to a reduction in vegetation. Less vegetation led to land erosion. With the return of the grey wolf, balance is gradually being restored to the park.
Kelp forests are necessary for marine ecosystems in that they provide a habitat for thousands of organisms and absorb carbon dioxide. These forests are typically grown in shallow, open waters. However, human activity and rising sea temperatures have destroyed kelp forests. Several countries have adopted rewilding strategies with Europe being the dominant region.
Once nearly extinct, the bison is Europe’s most successful comeback story. And these magnificent creatures are also flourishing once more in America. Experts in Portugal even discovered an Iberian lynx, suggesting that their rewilding efforts are attracting newer species. Living alongside or near wild animals is not easy nor is it even welcomed by most. However, there are awareness programs and information provided by conservation organizations to help educate us all on the importance of rewilding.