Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Can we restore nature? In seeking a means to heal our wounded planet, we should look to the painstaking, cautious craft of art conservation

 It is our sad lot that we love perishable things: our friends, our parents, our mentors, our partners, our pets. Those of us who incline to nature draw this consolation: most lovely natural things – the forests, the lakes, the oceans, the reefs – endure at scales remote from individual human ones. One meaning of the Anthropocene is that we must witness the unravelling of these things too. A tree we loved in childhood is gone; a favourite woodlot is felled; a local nature preserve invaded, eroded and its diversity diminished; this planet is haemorrhaging species.

When a rare Panamanian frog was named in 2005 for George Rabb, an eminent herpetologist and friend to many in the Chicago conservation community, we celebrated this newly named animal. By the time he died in 2017, Rabb’s fringe-limbed frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) was assumed extinct in the wild.

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