The idea of ‘bringing back’ anything – be it wilderness or something else – is one that brings cheer to every heart. There’s something about the good old days – preserving age-old traditions, moulding the old with the new, helping old ideas make a come-back – that just feels good to the soul. But there’s more to it than just warm fuzzy feelings – the ideas of regeneration, restoration and rewilding are much more freeing than just that.
Conservation is about protecting the ecosystems of the past, but restoration is about creating the ecosystems of the future. The need for restoration almost always lies in an external stressor – human or not – which disrupts the ecosystem in such a manner that it begins to lose its strength and diversity. Factors ranging from natural disasters like floods or earthquakes to human-induced stressors such as damming or indiscriminate logging can degrade an ecosystem to the point where they are in need of urgent restoration.
At times, ecological restoration is about healing damaged ecosystems. But mostly, it’s about ushering in ecological benefits for generations to come – both human and plant ones. Restoration takes into account the socio-ecological context of today, instead of simply aiming for a return to the conditions of yore. Any efforts to restore landscapes today must be designed for the very real problems of tomorrow, such as climate change, water security and increasing anthropogenic pressures.
Bringing back native forests isn’t a passing fad. It’s a worldwide movement. In the mountains of West Virginia, a small non-profit called Green Forests Work is working to rehabilitate a Red Spruce forest. The Red Spruce is considered a “sponge” for the mountains there, much like our good old Quercus (Oak), back here. These rare Red Spruce forests faced immense ecological destruction and the loss of biodiversity for decades, because of coal mining. But to prevent the Red Spruce from turning into a monoculture, they are also planting native hardwoods such as the American Chestnut, Red Mulberry and Sugar Maple.
In Brazil, Floresta de Bolso is bringing native forests back to the streets of São Paulo. These are urban mini forests, less than 15 square meters in size, but they are truly wild and free. Saplings are planted much closer together than traditional reforestation principles, simulating the natural way of the forest. Japan, too, is in the process of rewilding its secondary single-species plantations to mixed-species forests, to help preserve the few remaining Golden Eagles which don’t find adequate prey in the timber plantations and are nearing extinction.
Take root and thrive with us
There is a lot of great restoration work happening all around the world. Alaap, too, is bringing back native forests to the Himalayas, right here in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand. Don’t you want to be a part of the restoration generation?
A lot of Alaap’s work can be situated within the philosophies of restoration, regeneration and ecophilosophy, which are at the heart of the Miyawaki Method (more on that later). In many ways, our work with communities also reflects these same philosophies. We believe in helping inner and outer ecologies collide
Follow us to learn more about the ways of the wild and the free. May the forest be with you!