As the world population grows, agricultural lands face unprecedented pressure even as they are degraded by climate change, water scarcity, and other issues.
Rewilding the least productive of these lands offers a way to reverse the damage from intensive agriculture.
A new book, Rewilding Agricultural Landscapes: A California Study in Rebalancing the Needs of People and Nature was published by Island Press on April 8, 2021 to address this vast opportunity. It’s edited by H. Scott Butterfield, T. Rodd Kelsey, and Abigail K. Hart.
The book uses the southern Central Valley of California, one of the most productive and important agricultural regions in the world, as a case study for returning a balance to agricultural lands and natural ecosystems. The accessibly written, groundbreaking contributed volume is the first to examine in detail how to retire eligible farmland and restore functioning natural ecosystems.
This project—one of the largest rewilding studies of its kind in dryland ecosystems—has shown that rewilding can slow desertification and provide ecosystem services to nearby farms and communities.
The book presents the vision of a region restored to ecological balance and equipped for inevitable climate change. It offers a programmatic approach and straightforward lessons that can be applied in similar regions around the world.