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INTRODUCTIONEdit

There is no doubt that the human species is affecting the biology, ecology, climate, and chemistry of Earth. "We are a macrophase power," notes cosmologist Brian Swimme, "but operating with microphase wisdom." That is, the wisdom of human action and being that took thousands of years to develop and culturally pass on, rooted in a time in which our most powerful weapon was on the order of a spear, is mismatched with the scale of our effects today.

The human species, therefore, is powerfully affecting the course of future evolution of many life forms and physical systems on this planet, but we are doing so largely in unconscious ways.

How, then, do we collectively strive to have the level of our ecological wisdom catch up with the level of our ecological impact?

What has come to be known as the "environmental movement" is an important contribution toward conscious evolution of our inter-relationship with the whole Earth community. One of the most optimistic and pro-active segments of the environmental movement is "restoration ecology" -- that is, working to restore injured habitats and ecosystems toward a benchmark "natural" state. Another and far more recent form of conscious intervention is known as the "rewilding" movement.

Rewilding moves beyond restoration in that it seeks to return a landscape to a wild, self-willed state of health, with active intervention in the beginning intended to ease back into less action, as nature increasingly assumes the supportive role.

Two efforts devoted to this task are:

1. "Rewilding North America" - an opinion piece published by a dozen prominent conservation biologists in the 18 August 2005 issue of Nature can be accessed via http://rewilding.org/pdf/Pleistocene-Re-wildingNorthAmerica1.pdf. This paper advocates "bringing back" horses, camels, elephants, cheetahs, and lions to the American plains and semiarid landscapes, in order to restore to the vegetational landscapes the kinds of animal interactions with which these landscapes co-evolved for millions of years. "Bringing back" surrogates for the native species of elephants, camels, horses, and carnivores that went extinct on this continent just 13,000 years ago is also advocated as a way to ensure that these lineages have an opportunity to evolve new native species for their own sake.

2. "Rewilding Torreya taxifolia" - is an effort advanced by a community of amateur and professional botanists and ecologists which is directed at intervening with America's most endangered conifer tree in a way that considers its evolutionary past and likely evolutionary future -- with or without conscious human action in its behalf. To learn more about this effort, visit the website of "Torreya Guardians": http://www.torreyaguardians.org.

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