A Severed Relationship

As the world suffers massive urbanization, predicted to reach nearly 70 percent world-wide by 2050, I am deeply saddened to announce that Nature is Losing.

The majority of humans have in essence severed their relationship with wild-ness and with Nature. Though as intertwined as we inherently are to Nature, the divorce can never truly be finalized, as we still require oxygen to breath from the remaining trees and plants and clean water to drink. But as we have remained in this ever-dysfunctional and unloving relationship we have undoubtedly began to poison ourselves. 

As the field work I do remains incredibly meaningful to me and to the project at hand, its unfortunate small-scale-ness is not enough…. I continue to work with amazing people, doing amazing work restoring habitat through primarily watershed restoration. And on the ground and on-site we witness incredible successes.   

However, earlier this summer I worked within a very sparse forest in Arizona and along the Verde River conducting surveys of endangered and threaten bird species. Through the duration of the survey periods, a handful of long-term biologists visited and shared some of their insights and observations they have gained in their careers. It was obvious that historically denser forests and fauna existed and that was made clearer upon their visits. But this was evident not only to the particular area I was working, but all of North America’s forests and rivers were experiencing the same demise. 

Upon visiting, one biologist and a man of 30 plus years experience in the field, stood in awe and speechless while peering into the forest. Many of those accompanying him stood in silence, waiting for him to speak. When he did finally speak he said: “This really saddens me…”. He was speaking about the state of the forest. Which I knew in my heart was essentially a dry and dying space with a faint life-line. There was absolutely no diversity. Just to see a mere Abert’s Squirrel stirred excitement. How exotic.

In my heart at least, there was an air of failure, remorse and sadness over the state of many of our so-called “habitats”. Upon many of my personally made field observations, I could not help but notice a great in-balance of nearly all of the sites in which I conducted these surveys; whether forest or river-side. And those special and less-impacted, more wild of spaces, which I adored working alone in, were sparse; consisting of only minuscule pockets of land, too small to be sustainable for the majority of species under threat. And of which I may point out, most if not all indigenous wild species, including plants, are basically under the same unrelenting threats. It is pure and simple what they are enduring and what is amiss: loss…   of…   habitat. 

When biologists speak of habitat in this manner, what they are referring to are areas that encompass diversity and suitability. Not merely space. For much of the space remaining is unsuitable. 

In my current efforts in creating a Nature-based outdoor school of observations and science, I admit that find myself in absorption of these disheartening facts in which I have spoken of nearly my entire life, and it has dampened the spirit of who I am. For where there is a war, we all lose. And instead of joining in efforts for the benefit of the greater good, which in my views have always extended to the preservation of Nature and wildness firstly and foremost, we have chosen to turn our focuses inward, self-ward; we are already well into the Anthropocene abiding in the drawn out wars on immediate climate change threats, sprawling urbanization, mega-agriculture, pollution, alarming population trends….{sigh}… I am tired.

For now, I recall a few unforgettable wild animal experiences I had this year in adventuring: a curious Mexican Gray Wolf, a Coati family and a leaping Ring-tailed cat. They bring a smile to my face. At least I have those spirits to hang on to. And for now, they will keeping me going….

[If you would like to learn more about how the anthropocene is effecting natural ecology, I highly recommend this book: Satellites in High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man by Jason Mark]

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