You critique solutions that you see as bad or inadequate. One of these criticisms is of “re-wilding”, where predators that were once thought of as a threat are re-introduced in order to benefit the whole ecosystem.

I think re-wilding offers people hope in a hopeless time. As global negotiations around climate change seem more and more deadlocked, something like re-wilding seems very exciting. I talk about the way it tries to wind time backwards, and there is something redemptive about that.

But there are problems: how far are we going to wind time backwards by reintroducing these keystone species? Do we want to go to the moment before Europeans arrived in a place like America? Well, there are problems with that because there were already people there who maintained the land in a certain way – it wasn’t “pristine” in the way settler-colonials envisaged it.

My real foundational critique is a pretty basic one. A lot of the celebrations of re-wilding are about bringing back areas in the global north while the decimation of so-called biodiversity hotspots in the global south pick up speed. What’s the point of working on a place like Oostvaardersplassen in Holland – where the Dutch government’s trying to re-introduce this ancient version of oxen – while the governments of the global north are unwilling to protect much more important areas in the south?

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