Wildlife Corridors

By April Thanhauser

In ONE's teleseminar series, six Nature Evolutionaries share their visions and their ways of connecting with the Wild. Pam Montgomery opens our hearts to our deep relatedness through recognizing and reconnecting with our Indigenous Souls. Rachel Corby shows us her many doors into wildness, from swimming in the ocean to contemplating the unexpected weed in her garden. Drew Dellinger and Tim McLaughlin draw us deeply into  the wild realm of Earth and Cosmos through the language of poetry. Tammi Sweet takes us into the wilderness with skills to survive there, and Dina Falconi leads us to find the good food and medicine all around us in the Wild. Each of these can be a guide for us to find our own portals into the places where we are one with the wildness of the world.

When we embrace this wildness we seek it out,  and there grows in us a fierce desire to protect the wild places on our planet. It’s not hard to see how threatened they are. How in many countries, wilderness is reduced to little pockets or islands where the press of civilization has been held back , either by natural forces like inhospitable landscapes or by the work of humans standing up to protect the wild places they cherish.

So much gratitude is due to these humans—to the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region saying yes to rainforest and no to oil development. And to organizations like PachamamaAlliance www.pachamama.org which support them. There are courageous keepers of the wild, like Rocio Alarcon at Iamoe in Ecuador www.iamoecenter.com who dedicate their lands and their lives to preserving the precious biodiversity of wild places and the traditions of indigenous peoples.

The World Wildlife Fund  www.worldwildlife.org highlights iconic, endearing species like elephants and panda bears to attract international interest in preserving their lives and their homes.  The WWF’s “umbrella of technology” employs the newest technology to combat illegal killing of elephants, tigers and other endangered creatures. In the US, the Natural Resource Defense Council www.nrdc.org dedicates its work to legal protections for the Wild.

 

In the US and Canada, national parks work hard to preserve wilderness areas for the wild creatures who live there as well as for the hikers, skiers, hunters and fishers who value them so highly. Organizations like the Sierra Club www.sierraclub.org  advocate for the protection of these lands.

Those groups who study the lives of wild animals recognize with increasing alarm that small or even large islands of wild preserves are valuable but not enough. Many animals who are key to ecological balance need to roam widely, Enclosed in one island of wild, they cannot adapt well to climate change by seeking alternate territory; they are at a loss if food or water supplies grow scarce. And they cannot diversify their genetic stock by finding mates from another locale, unless there is a way to get there. So some conservation groups concentrate on creating wildlife corridors—wide or narrow strips of wildness connecting one habitat to another. These may be a vast protected territory like a national park, or simply an underpass or overpass to help animals cross highways without dying. Banff National Park has a management plan with a goal to protect and restore "key" wildlife corridors. They recognize that “large carnivores…have the greatest movement needs of all wildlife in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. In theory, if their requirements are met, then so too will the needs of smaller, though equally important species.” (www.pc.gc.ca  Parks Canada site)

The National Wildlife Federation www.nwf.org. which has been instrumental in protecting gray wolves and their habitat, has found that the wolf packs need thousands of square miles to be healthy. And healthy wolf packs in turn create healthy ecosystems. The NWF, in addition to advocating for wildlife on a national level, has guidelines for individuals to work in our own back yards. Their “Garden for Wildlife” program gives specifics on how to create oases of food, water, shelter, and nesting grounds for the small creatures under pressure from human development. By making these tiny wildlife habitats we can, in effect, form a sort of archipelago of islands of safety for wildlife, which with luck, planning and goodwill may be linked into a network of connectivity to ensure a wider range for the wild ones. On the island of Martha’s Vineyard, for example, the Nature Conservancy www.nature.org  has guided and supported the “Martha’s Vineyard Habitat Network” which gives advice on how to maintain backyard habitat and then how to connect with neighbors to build mini wildlife corridors on the island.

On the macro scale, the Wildlands Network is implementing the vision of creating four “Continental Wildways”-- corridors of protected wild land “running coast to coast and North to South through Canada, the US and Mexico.”  This will involve both protecting “core areas” and creating linkages between them: providing “habitat and safe passageways for wildlife to travel freely from place to place.” Maps and descriptions of this exciting concept can be found at www.wildlandsnetwork.org/wildways.

 

The thing is—how can we survive without the Wild in us? And the Wild in each of us needs to connect with the Wild in all of us. Whether our individual portal to the Wild is vision quest or a mountain range, a poem or a bird in flight, a ceremony or a crashing wave or even a small weed growing in a crack in the cement, we too, need wildlife corridors. Our awakening Indigenous Souls need to find each other. Our hope is that ONE can be a way in, to our inner Wild, to the Wild world, and to a network of connectivity—with all our Wild relations.