ICYMI: 'How Conservationist Designers Are Reacting to Climate Change'

Alyssa Giacobbe for Architectural Digest


 In her 2009 book Rewilding the World: Dispatches From the Conservation Revolution, American author Caroline Fraser took an early look at what she believed would be the greatest, perhaps only, hope for saving the planet. Rewilding is a movement—part science, part design—that involves applying large-scale conservation and ecological restoration efforts to wilderness, ocean, and rural areas. It requires a broad look at designing and protecting such areas, and widespread buy-in; a shift in thinking from a per-project scale to a landscape one. Such a shift is, Fraser argued, the only way to adapt to climate change.

More than a decade later, the conversation around climate change has turned to one around climate crisis. Humans now have just 10 years to reduce their global carbon dioxide output in order to halt global warming; individual efforts are simply not enough. Although protected areas have grown from 3% of the world’s surface in the 1960s to over 12% today, experts worry many are no more than “paper parks”—in other words, areas that are protected in theory, but with few resources and little big-picture impact. Many aren’t nearly large enough to protect the wildlife that’s within them. Others are understaffed and undermonitored. While these problems exist in the U.S., they become even more apparent in certain areas abroad, like Africa, where conserved land is abundant, but parks so vast that it’s difficult to hire enough people to patrol and manage them—one reason poaching has been so hard to combat. In the Philippines, although there are more than 400 marine protected areas, only 10% of those are hitting the goals they’ve set for conservation.

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