This talk is the opening address given to the Open Landscapes 2013 conference in Hildesheim, Germany.
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Semi-natural open landscapes in developed nations provide the opportunity re-examine one of the most profound issues facing humanity—how to maintain and expand the habitat for the many wild species with which we share Earth. How do open landscapes fit into a world that varies along a continuum from dense cities to strict wilderness? We need to look carefully at both the science that we have done, and the attitudes with which we apply that science. How we might do better in the future?
This talk has three parts:
(1) I begin by exploring some of the attitudinal differences between North America and Europe, to wild areas, at least as I have experienced them in writing and in travel.
(2) I explore the challenge of restoring natural driving forces that create open non-forested landscapes, such as flooding and fire.
(3) I review some pragmatic models we have for managing and enhancing biodiversity, and some of the observational and experimental data that support them. Overall, there are many reasons for optimism.
With thanks to Rebecca Winter for her camera work.