E. O.Wilson believes the only way to prevent mass extinctions, especially when we think of very large predators declining and struggling, is to provide enough habitat for them to move around. Animals trapped in small spots without the ability to live like they lived in the wild, isn’t working very well. Yes, they are alive, but not flourishing.
He believes the only way to stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, is to set aside half the planet as permanently protected area for the other ten million species. Half Earth. Half for us, half for them. This idea has been circulating among conservationists for some time.
He suggests a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming with twists and turns, some opening up wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.These would be wild land chains of long landscapes. Some would run North and South, like the western initiative known as Yellowstone-to-Yukon.
Instead of just Yellowstone-to-Yukon, that corridor could be expanded to reach Mexico.
This will let wildlife move north as things warm up and those that run east-west may have the benefit of letting wildlife move east , away from the west, which in the future may not see as much rain. We would be enveloped and surrounded by connecting corridors so that you are almost never far from a national park, or a landscape that leads to a national park.
We already have some partial corridors like the bison ranch in Montana and the Appalachian Trail in the east. The Piney woods echo system in the American Southwest. If we build on them and work at it we can convert the earth in half a century to a “Half Planet.”
Near Freeport Florida, a man by the name of M.C. Davis, using his own money, is buying up land and removing intruders and planting longleaf pines to extend that habitat into a corridor. The longleaf pine forest once covered 90 million acres, a 1,200 mile stretch across nine states. There are 3 million acres left, worse than the losses of coral reefs. He has begun a corridor to connect his lands with a protected longleaf forest. He believes to save the Florida black bear, the gopher tortoise and other threatened species, they have to have room to move around. If you protect a few, and when they eat to much of their habitat, you kill them off so they don’t overpower their habitat, you simply control them. They aren’t free and they need to be. Davis’s habitat project also saves and encourages regeneration of cypress trees. What he is accomplishing is huge and can be done if enough people get behind it.
Sound impossible? Only if you don’t think big. Roosevelt electrified the world when he declared our country set aside land of great beauty, to remain undeveloped so all could share it, a National Park, a shared treasure. No other country had done that before. Some people thought it was stupid and crazy. We now know what a favor he did us.
The map above shows Eglln Air Force Base as a possible conversion to a National Habitat Park. Nokuse Plantation is what Davis bought up and is preserving as longleaf protection. And above Elglin Air base is a series of State Forests. Why not form a corridor of major protection for plants and animals from Nokuse,, include Eglin, to Blackwater River State Forest?
And in the East, also a good start. Joining protected land with partnerships with owners connected to that land and insuring links to continual forest for other species to roam.
If we don’t think big and get started, will we be sorry we didn’t try to save the marvelous natural heritage we have?
Should we do nothing and watch it all degrade and disappear?
I hold my place as a backyard preserve. I promise not to spray and to provide water for animals and birds. We can help, one back yard at a time. It is truly amazing to watch nature work in balance around you.And, we can promote and support E.O. Wilson’s “Half Planet” idea.