Tuesday, 14 March 2017

pleistocene park

Having seen the full documentary on German television over the weekend with H, I was pleased to see the coverage of enormous and complex conservation project reproduced by The Atlantic. Reaching back to the dawn of human civilisation and the retreat of the glaciers that spawned the shared myths and memories of the great deluge and Atlantis (we’ve no tales of advancing sheets of ice and winters that span æons) the Pleistocene Age ushers in human society, perhaps developed as a way to cope with the cold and privation.
The success of humans upset the balance of that Nature had cultivated for far longer than the fifty thousand years since the Age of Man, hunting most of the megafauna of the plains to extinction. The grazing of huge beasts adapted to the climate, corralled by predators, ensured that the tundra maintained its character and did not give up its permafrost in an uncontrolled catastrophic fashion. Some determined residents of Siberia have begun a massive land-management project that aims to restore the grasslands and the integrity of their local biome by reintroducing elk, bison, and maybe even mammoths in the near future. Similar conservation efforts are beating back the advance of the desert on the plains of Africa and have even allowed cattle ranchers and elephants to coexist. It seems a bit counter-intuitive at first but if committed and managed correctly could save heath and prairie and keep sequestered carbon out of the atmosphere.