What do creative conservationist Asher Jay, peer-reviewed Canadian rapper Baba Brinkman, Tracks of Giants genius Ian McCallum and UK environmental writer George Monbiot have in common? They're all at WILD10, and they are wowing the audience, the media, and the public with the creative and passionate ways that they are harnessing their hearts and minds to the cause of wild nature. Ian McCallum is right: Homo sapiens is not a keystone species... remove us, and nature would "breathe a sigh of relief." But all of these people, and so many more at the WILD10 conference, are "keystone individuals," to borrow McCallum's wonderful phrase.
WILD10 is a dizzying experience, replete with packed panels, photo exhibits, public art, wolf howl flash mobs, tree plantings, sunrise blessings, representatives from 39 indigenous tribes, and accounts of the return of bison, wild horses, wolves, beavers, and chamois to the remnant forests, marshlands, and grasslands of this ecologically bealeaguered continent.
The story of the "rewilding" of Europe is one of the most compelling and uplifting of the conference thus far. The powers that be in the European Union are sitting up and taking notice of one of the core messages of WILD10: nature is no luxury; it is a necessary precondition and underpinning of human health, prosperity, and culture.
Though it is still true, as George Monbiot said in his electrifying talk on the vision of a return of megafauna to Europe, that "we live in a shadow world, a dim, flattened relic of what there once was," conservationists and nature activists are coming out of the shadows, emboldened in part by the Nature Needs Half concept. And more on that, when I write here next. Stay tuned, this conference is in full SWING.