ReWild: The Art of Returning to Nature, by Nick Baker, June 2017. Aurum Press, ISBN 978-1781316559, 304 pages. RRP £16.99 (hardback)
Nick Baker, an expert naturalist and TV presenter, inspires us to reconnect with nature and so rediscover the inner being (beast) in all of us.
He takes us on a step by step journey, using our five main senses (sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch) including the sixth sense of intuition, to commune and be at one with nature. Nick goes further by suggesting we should harness other senses, such as stimulus modalities including vibration, temperature, pain, balance and other stimuli in order to be fully in tune with nature.
In practising the art of rewilding, we learn some important lessons and facts:
- As human beings, conditioned to living in a mainly urbanised and industrialised society geared to material and monitory values, we have tended to lose our connectedness with and interdependence on the biodiversity of flora and fauna, habitat and species.
- The ecological balance and chain that connects all life is breaking down. More than one in ten of the UK’s wildlife species is threatened with extinction and the numbers of the nation’s most endangered creatures have plummeted by two-thirds since 1970, according to UK State of Nature 2016 Report. Meanwhile worldwide a WWF report states that the Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the last 40 years due to exploitation, habitat loss, pollution and climate change. 10,000 species are becoming extinct each year. There can be no doubt that we are in the midst of a very serious biodiversity crisis.
- In order for biodiversity to survive and thrive, it cannot be confined to isolated pockets, such as National Parks and nature reserves. We have to create ecological corridors to connect these green spaces.
- We learn as sentient beings that we belong to the Earth; it does not belong to us to do with what we like, to dominate and exploit. Nothing lives in isolation; we are all connected; and our life on Earth depends on this interlinked biodiversity.
- By experiencing the art of rewilding, we benefit as human beings. We find wholeness and well being or as Nick puts it: “Wherever I find nature I find my salvation”. There is ample evidence of how healing our communion with nature can be, ranging from horticultural to pet therapy, particularly in relation to our mental health. There is a diagnosis of “Nature Deficit Disorder” caused by lack of green space. This shows how our being is an integral part of Creation. Natural England in its Review of nature based interventions for mental health care (2016) recognises the importance of this approach in combating the stresses and strains of modern life.
From a Christian viewpoint, while the author does not use Creation theology language, such as the sacredness of Creation as a manifestation of God’s presence in the world, this book has a spiritual dimension, a feeling of reverence, which calls us to care passionately for nature. For me, reading it is like the Psalmist’s words: “Be still, and know that I am God” – seeing and listening to God in Creation.”
David Penney (Rev)