Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution / Edition 1

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A Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book of the Year

If environmental destruction continues at its current rate, a third of all plants and animals could disappear by 2050--along with earth's life-support ecosystems, which provide food, water, medicine, and natural defenses against climate change.

Now Caroline Fraser offers the first definitive account of a visionary crusade 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. A "methodical, lyrical" (Sacramento News & Review) story of scientific discovery and grassroots action, Rewilding the World offers hope for a richer, wilder future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With this book, Fraser does for rewilding what David Quammen did for island biogeography in his seminal The Song of the Dodo. Fraser uses lucid prose, engaging stories and personal experience to make the ideas accessible and vital to a wide audience. This is no dreary rehearsal of past eco-errors and present concerns. Fraser takes us far beyond San Diego, straight into the lives of African elephants, Australian lizards and a Russian bear that intruded upon the Olympic Games, sitting on the sidewalk while languidly consuming a young girl's pet rabbit. '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."

The Los Angeles Times


"A call to retrofit more than a century of nature conservation in the United States and around the world . . . Fraser plows straight furrows through the ideological minefields of conservation politics."

The New York Review of Books


"A thoughtful examination of rewilding and its discontents. . . an important book."

The New York Times


"This is a serious book, about a serious subject. . . a crisis more threatening than climate change."

San Francisco Chronicle


"Methodical, lyrical. . . If ever there was a conservation idea ready to take hold and change awareness, it's rewilding."

Sacramento News & Review


"A clarion call to save wildlife and the wilderness by 'rewilding.'"

The Daily Beast


"Readers will come away better informed about the complexity of the ecosystems around us and with an increased awareness of the many factors involved in maintaining natural order and balance. . . This truly is an essential read for conservationists, biologists, and anyone interested in the natural world."

Library Journal, starred review


"A fascinating, little-known story. . ."

Associated Press


"Makes a convincing case that [rewilding] represents the only realistic strategy for conserving our rapidly diminishing wildlife."



"Her story of grassroots activism paired with the scientific is environmentally inspirational."

Publishers Weekly


“Since I spend much of my time trying to head off environmental calamity, this fascinating and lyrical book came as a particularly welcome gift. It shows how scientists and activists are using imagination and research to build a realistic strategy for securing our green and noble heritage for the future. It will help you think big, which is the only way to think about these questions.”

—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth and The End of Nature


“A riveting journal of the astonishing bio-impoverishment of our planet.”

—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance and author of Crimes Against Nature


“Caroline Fraser’s Rewilding the World is an exciting and wise exploration of a revolution that’s reshaping the conservation movement. She’s gone all over the world to bring us news from the front lines, and her account is one of essential hope: though it’s no guarantee that we can save nature from collapse, she shows that we have a fighting chance. Fraser’s account stirred me.”

—Richard Preston, author of The Wild Trees and The Hot Zone


"Give them room to roam! Caroline Fraser’s smart, passionate manifesto offers hope to the wild world. In an age of overwhelming loss, she shows us how to gain: more bears, more wolves, more biodiversity, more thriving ecosystems, more life. This is an important book about the cutting edge of conservation and how it might save our continent and our selves."

—Bruce Barcott, author of The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw

“Rewilding is less a conservationist's utopian vision than a roadmap for the way we must learn to live on earth. As Caroline Fraser carefully explains, humans will survive only in a world as wild as the one that created us. If you want to live, read this book.”

—Doug Peacock, author of The Essential Grizzly and Walking It Off

Publishers Weekly
Though the poisons of pollution and the encroachment of climate change are continuing environmental threats, it's the acceleration of biodiversity loss that most alarms Fraser (God's Perfect Child) in this well-sourced study of worldwide attempts to knit together enough ecosystems to keep life alive. The problem: the disappearance of nature itself—the mass extinction of species, from lumbering polar bears to fragile flowers—that could see half of all nonhuman life extinct by the end of this century. The solution: rewilding—a nascent “resurrection ecology” that designs wildlife refuges (“cores”) and, more importantly, creates corridors connecting one refuge to another so that species such as elephants, tigers and wolves can range more wildly, a key to survival. Successful rewilding in North America, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, has led to a rebound in mountain lion and bear populations; more unexpectedly, the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea, a narrow 155-mile-long corridor uninhabited by humans for 55 years, has seen an ecological rebirth and is now home to 67 endangered species. Though Fraser's fact-heavy prose is slow reading, her story of grassroots activism paired with the scientific is environmentally inspirational. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Freelance writer and author Fraser (God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church) takes us on a global tour of conservation efforts to save endangered species and landscapes through "rewilding." She discusses what it means to rewild an area, the importance of reestablishing animal migration routes, how to involve and educate local communities about conservation, and how these three techniques are morphing into "sustainable conservation." Fraser is to be commended for bringing to light the histories, current events, and key players of each of the geographical regions she explores; she demonstrates their interconnectedness in a readable, engaging style that laypeople and scientists will appreciate. Readers will come away better informed about the complexity of the ecosystems around us and with an increased awareness of the many factors involved in maintaining natural order and balance. VERDICT Heavily researched with endnotes for those looking for more information, this truly is an essential read for conservationists, biologists, and anyone interested in the natural world. Highly recommended for all libraries with life sciences or environmental collections.—Kyrille Goldbeck, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. Libs., Blacksburg\
Kirkus Reviews
A passionate, optimistic account of a sometimes successful movement aimed at restoring natural habitats. During the past decades, nature researchers have discovered a practical tactic for preserving native environments and slowing the massive extinction now in progress. "Rewilding," writes journalist Fraser (God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church, 1999), does not try to re-create wilderness, but it requires "Cores, Corridors, and Carnivores." Cores such as national parks are too small to do the job alone. Censuses in American parks always show a steady decline in the number of species. Corridors connecting refuges enable wildlife to disperse widely and multiply; they may include farms and even towns, but barriers (fences and highways) are disastrous. Fraser notes that large predators are the key to maintaining species diversity. In the absence of wolves, deer eat everything in sight. More bird species thrive when coyotes are present than when they are absent because coyotes eat domestic cats, the leading bird-killer. The author focuses on several dozen projects around the world, ranging from modest links between two parks to massive ongoing efforts to connect a million square miles from Yellowstone Park in Wyoming to the Yukon in northern Canada ("Y2Y") and in southern Africa. Sad experience has taught that successful schemes require money, long-term commitment, relatively honest governments and-most important-cooperation of the people living on the land. Fraser's colorful stories do not conceal rewilding's painful educational curve and mixed results, but she makes a convincing case that it represents the only realistic strategy for conserving our steadilydiminishing wildlife. Agent: Cynthia Cannell/Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312655419
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 11/23/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,436,318
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Fraser's first book, God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church, was selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book Review Best Book. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Outside magazine, among others. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Predicta Moth 1

Part I Cores, Corridors, and Carnivores

1 Rewilding North America 17


The Trouble with Islands

Rewilding in the Real World

"A Corridor in People's Minds"

2 The Problem With Predators 43

The Green Fire

The Problem with Predators

"Buy More Cats"

3 Corridors In Central and South America 62

Categories of Concern

The Path of the Panther

Fragments of Brazil

4 Reconnecting The Old World 79

The European Green Belt

A Problem Bear

The Rebirth of the Neusiedler See

Reclaiming Romania

The Accidental Corridor

Part II An Africa Without Fences

5 Peace Parks and Paper Parks 103

Corridors with Leverage

From Penitent Butchers to Paper Parks

"An Africa without Fences"

6 The Great Limpopo 129

The Elephant Problem

The People Problem

The Giriyondo Gate

The View from Cape Town

7 The Lubombo Transfrontier 156


Breakthrough at Ndumo

8 Looking For Kaza 174

"It Looks Great on Paper"

Night Shift to Namibia

The Demon Croc

"The Elephants Are Going Home"

Part III Community Conservation: "Very Tricky"

9 The Conservancy Movement 203

Namibia's Experiment

Kenya and "the Government's Cattle"

The Cattle Ranch That Became a Conservancy

In the Northern Rangelands


10 The Tiger Moving Game 241

Royal Rhinos and Community Forests

The People's War

Goats, Guns, People

Looking for Tigers at Tiger Tops

The Cautionary Tale of Corcovado

Part IV "Sustainable Conservation"

11 Resurrection Ecology 281

From Curtis Prairie to Fresh Kills


Shifting Baselines and Pleistocene Rewilding

12 Costa Rica's Thousand-Year Vision 300

Large-Scale and Long-Term

The Parataxonomists

13 Regrowing Australia 321

Extreme Extinction

A Million Acres a Year

The Puzzle

Living in the Link

Conclusion: Only Connect 342

Notes 355

Acknowledgments 378

Index 383

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