Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Caroline Fraser's "Rewilding the World"

Caroline Fraser was born in Seattle and holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in English and American literature. Formerly on the editorial staff of The New Yorker, she has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside Magazine, Allure, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review, among other publications. Her essays and reviews have also appeared frequently in The New York Review of Books. She has received a PEN Award for Best Young Writer and numerous prizes for her poetry.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution, and reported the following:
As luck would have it, page 99 is the last page of the first section of Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution, a book about attempts to save biodiversity around the world. The page examines the most bizarre “accidental” wildlife corridor in the world: the Korean Demilitarized Zone, 155 miles long and 2 1/2 miles wide, where no human being has set foot in fifty-five years. Because the DMZ is so dangerous, it has become a perfect corridor for the preservation of Korean biodiversity, providing a secure haven for 2,700 species of plants and animals, including the Amur leopard, the Asiatic black bear, and perhaps even the Siberian tiger. But perfection comes at a price: “The DMZ is more fully functional, less developed or disrupted or disturbed than Y2Y or the Mesoamerican or the Green Belt [corridor projects described previously]. It only took a million land mines to do it.”

Renowned biologists are urging that this strip of land be preserved as a conservation “peace park,” while developers eye its future potential for factories or farms. For now, the 38th parallel hangs in the balance, a living metaphor suggesting nature’s recuperative powers and the difficulty of curbing humanity’s voracious appetites. Page 99 sums up the most troubling issues facing conservation: “Land and wildlife recover when we leave them alone, but the question remains: Can we find the will to restrain ourselves without the threat of annihilation? Can we do it in time?”
Learn more about the book and author at the Rewilding the World website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue