The gift we should give to the living world? Time, and lots of it | George Monbiot

The gift we should give to the living world? Time, and lots of it | George Monbiot

Planting 10 saplings does not replace a twisted old oak. ‘Slow ecology’ is the only way to preserve and restore ancient habitats

We have a slow food movement and a slow travel movement. But we’re missing something, and its absence contributes to our escalating crisis. We need a slow ecology movement, and we need it fast.

The majority of the world’s species cannot withstand any significant disruption of their habitat by humans. Healthy ecosystems depend to a great extent on old and gnarly places, that might take centuries to develop, and are rich in what ecologists call “spatial heterogeneity”: complex natural architecture. They need, for example, giant trees, whose knotty entrails are split and rotten; great reefs of coral or oysters or honeycomb worms; braiding, meandering rivers full of snags and beaver dams; undisturbed soils reamed by roots and holes. The loss of these ancient habitats is one of the factors driving the global shift from large, slow-growing creatures to the small, short-lived species able to survive our onslaughts. Slow ecology would protect and create our future ancient habitats.

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