Review by Janet Raloff
What does it mean to be wild, and can humans restore wildness to a planet they’ve spent their history trying to tame? Marris hauls out a wheelbarrow-load of research indicating that humans have altered nearly every inch of the terrestrial landscape at one time or another (even ignoring the global transport of air pollutants and perturbation of the climate). So any claim that a place is “pristine,” she argues, requires substantial caveats. But Marris makes a strong case that this doesn’t mean there aren’t ecosystems worth saving, or at least tweaking.
Marris recounts efforts under way across the globe to “rewild” various sites to conditions that existed a century — if not 10 millennia — ago. Such projects invariably require compromises. Once-keystone species may no longer walk or slither across the planet. Budgets may not stretch to