the creation of a planetary commons
"It is solved by walking"
Iconic landscapes of the 20th century are known as National Parks. In the 21st century, we propose a new form of such landscape, a World Park.
The ‘World Park’ is a global initiative to ecologically restore land in the world’s biological hotspots and join these lands together into a continuous public park system. The World Park protects biodiversity, provides ecosystem services, creates jobs and offers potentially transformative personal experiences for those who work on its restoration projects or walk its trails. The idea of the World Park stems from the need to meet global conservation targets set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). To meet the targets an additional 1.6 % of the earth’s terrestrial area needs to be set aside as protected land. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s almost equivalent to 700,000 Central Parks; which, if you put them end to end, would be a park that runs 70 times around the Earth!
Instead of these 700,000 Central Parks being added piecemeal to the already fragmented distribution of the world’s protected areas, the World Park conjoins them into a coherent park system through regions where the world’s biodiversity is most threatened.
To do this the World Park has two primary tracts of land: the first runs north-south from Alaska to Patagonia, and the second, east-west from Australia to Morocco. The first step in the creation of the World Park is to design and construct trails and services along the entire length of these two corridors. These trails extend through over 50,000 kilometers of territory across 40 nations. To walk both would take 5 years.
The logic of the trails is such that they are routed through as many existing protected areas and World Heritage sites as possible. But the trails don’t just lead to scenic areas, they are intended as catalysts for people to engage in the main work of the World Park: to restore the ecological health of the lands in-between the existing protected areas. By expanding and interconnecting these protected areas, the World Park enables biodiversity to migrate into new territory and adapt to climate change.
As well as tourism, the World Park’s restoration projects provide jobs and careers. Similar to the way in which the Peace Corps provides meaningful work and experience for American youth, the World Park’s landscape restoration projects provide meaningful work experiences for the World’s youth.
This is not a fantasy. All over the world governments, conservation NGO’s and communities are already actively working together to create large scale landscape connectivity and restore depleted ecosystems. The World Park concept simply takes this activity to a new level.
In an age characterized by the 6th extinction and the likely loss of meaningful work for many, the World Park’s mission to restore ecological health to the landscape on a planetary scale is timely, compelling and necessary.