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What happens when nature is left to take its own course on abandoned land? Tim Marlow talks to George Monbiot, Frans Schepers and Joan Nassauer.

From the release of captive species to their natural habitats, to restoring ecosystems in rural and urban areas, to “rewilding the child”, Tim Marlow explores ideas about rewilding. With environmentalist and writer George Monbiot, Frans Schepers from Rewilding Europe and Joan Nassauer Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Michigan.

(Photo: The Gray Wolf; the species was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, USA in 1995. Credit: AP)

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41 minutes

Last on

Mon 22 Sep 2014 02:05GMT


  • Environmentalist George Monbiot

    Rewilding and genetic memory

    Duration: 12:12

  • Conservationist Frans Schepers

    Rewilding Europe

    Duration: 08:58

  • 60 Second Idea:

    Political rulers should lead their troops into battle

    Duration: 04:18

  • Professor of landscape architecture Joan Nassauer

    New ecosystems in the city of Detroit

    Duration: 13:12

George Monbiot

George Monbiot

George Monbiot is an environmentalist and journalist.  He describes rewilding as the mass restoration of ecosystems in which nature is left to find its own way.  But he says that it also involves the rewilding of individual lives: a rediscovery and wonder at the delights of nature which could help to repair the living planet.  In his most recent book Feral – searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding, he describes his own hunger for new environmental experiences and his efforts to re-engage with nature. 

(Photo: Anna Behrmann/ BBC) 

Frans Schepers

Frans Schepers
Frans Schepers is a  conservationist and Managing Director of Rewilding Europe, an initiative which aims to create 1 million hectares of new wild-lands across Europe by 2020.  With four out of five European citizens expected to live in urban areas by this time he says that rewilding offers a new appreciation of the idea of the wild and solutions for people who continue to live there.   He says that we will be surprised by the resilience of nature when it is allowed to do its own job.

Photo: courtesy of Frans Schepers

Joan Nassauer

Joan Nassauer

Joan Iverson Nassauer is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Michigan. Her research shows how abandoned former residential  areas of cities such as Detroit in the US, can play important ecological functions.  She describes how the return of wild plants and animals to the inner city have created  “novel eco-systems”  on small parcels of land. Residents there are more likely to be comfortable living in this semi-wild urban landscape if they can perceive signs that it is being cared for by human hands in some way.  Her research also explores how vacant neighbourhoods can be used to improve water quality for the city.

Photo courtesy of Joan Nassauer

Sixty Second Idea to Improve The World:

Sixty Second Idea to Improve The World:
George Monbiot proposes the revival of a principle of conflict in Ancient Greece that any ruler declaring war must lead his troops into battle.  He argues that many wars are waged to distract people from domestic problems, or as cold political calculations in order to boost a leader's standing in the polls.  He suggests that in a technological age many leaders can remain thousands of miles away from the conflict itself.  How willing would they be to go to war if they were to find themselves on the frontline, preferably with no greater protection than the ordinary soldier receives, and had to stay there until the war is over?  He asks whether this is a basic constitutional precaution that any state should take and whether if it was reinstated nations or people might be less likely to go to war.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images