The Most Efficient and Inexpensive Climate Solution Already Exists & You Can Help Protect It

Nov 22, 20212021 Choose Earth's Future, Featured, Talking WILD, Wilderness Designations

by Amy Lewis

Vice President, Communications & Policy

The Global Rewilding Alliance is the premier network for anyone passionate about rewilding the Earth. Rewilding and restoring nature is essential for humanity’s survival. Discover more below!


 

During COP26, I read countless articles describing governments and organizations seeking innovative solutions to our climate crisis. Innovative meaning newly created, patented, technological advancements that could lead to catalytic change. This language frustrated me because society knows of an existing solution, one that is already global in scale, with solid proof that it will work, and that just needs support and nurturing. That solution is wild nature, the very thing that kept our climate in balance for millennia, the very thing that allowed species to survive and thrive. Wild nature has been the foundation on which all life depends, and it will be instrumental in addressing the dual climate and biodiversity crises we face today. 

In advance of the 11th World Wilderness Congress, prominent conservationists on the planning committee were concerned that recognition of nature’s powerful climate benefits lagged behind human engineered solutions.  What if, they asked, we could create a global alliance of organizations who believe in wild nature, promote it, and who coordinate their actions to maximize its restoration and rewilding? What if we connected these organizations, big and small, so they could share their knowledge and encourage rewilding to help address the climate crisis?  To clarify a vision and principles for action, The Global Charter for Rewilding the Earth was the initial  product of this thinking, from which rapidly emerged the Global Rewilding Alliance In its first year the GRA succeeded in reaching millions of people with the message and benefits of rewilding.

The Global Rewilding Alliance helps expand support for rewilding Earth, including the essential role of biodiversity in maximizing the capacity of wildlands to capture and store carbon. Here, a GRA member, Cheetah Conservation Fund, releases two cheetahs back into the wild so that they can fulfill their ecological destiny.

 

The fact is that we cannot successfully address climate without nature. Locked within the soils and fiber of the world’s forests is enough carbon to exceed global targets and push us well past 1.5 degrees temperature rise. Keeping that carbon in place is essential for our climate goals. Likewise, restoring forests and other wildlands could yield extraordinary carbon benefits, including removing more than a third of the excess carbon in the atmosphere.

This is a well-known fact in conservation, but achieving it will require coordination and rapid learning on a global scale. Already, the Global Rewilding Alliance is a network of practitioners and messengers of 130+ members working on every continent (except Antarctica), restoring and rewilding nature on more than 100 million hectares of land and sea in 70 countries!  . Partners from Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe and the Americas now have an avenue to share the practice and theory of rewilding, ask for advice from one another to navigate difficult projects, and elevate rewilding as a mainstream tactic for addressing the dual climate and biodiversity crises. And as an official implementing partner for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, it is quickly gaining the necessary momentum to ignite global change. 

The Global Rewilding Alliance priority for 2022 is to “Animate the Carbon Cycle” by showing the substantial carbon sequestration gains created by wildlife and healthy levels of biodiversity. Science informs us that wildlife has the potential to “supercharge climate mitigation” if restored to historic levels. By reintroducing key species in important ecosystems, the entire food web flourishes and is activated, allowing far more carbon to be captured than traditional conservation and for more lifeforms to survive in those environments. By rewilding and conserving the functional role of species, carbon uptake in these areas can be amplified 1.5 to 12.5 times (or perhaps even more!) across the world’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems than traditional restoration.

This critical missing link between biodiversity and climate efforts is a holistic approach to conservation, mitigating the climate crisis while reducing species extinction simultaneously. Building awareness and action for the critical role of biodiversity in mitigating climate change  are  the primary aims in the next two years for the secretariat of the Global Rewilding Alliance.

WILD is a proud founding partner of the Global Rewilding Alliance and hosts the secretariat. If you want to see expanded support for rewilding and a wilder planet in 2022, consider a gift to WILD to support programs like the Global Rewilding Alliance.

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