Beyond the ‘Balance of Nature’: Pastoralists’ Alternative Perspectives on Sustainability

Published on 1 March 2021

David Attenborough’s mission to restore the balance of nature in the documentary, A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement, is at once inspiring and concerning. What if the balance of nature doesn’t exist? What if this mission is misplaced?

The film is full of the familiar tropes of nature documentaries, once again repeated with Attenborough’s familiar gravitas. Human beings have overrun the world. Wilderness has been destroyed. Stability and balance – the ‘security and stability of the Holocene’ – have been upset. Our singular world – invoking the iconic picture of ‘only one earth’ (Ward and Dubos 1972) seen from space – becomes threatened.

Catastrophe and crisis are the impending result. Unless of course ‘we’ (a rather generic humanity) can restore stability through protecting biodiversity; in his words, ‘rewilding the world’.

Cite this publication

Scoones. I. (2021) ' Beyond the ‘Balance of Nature’: Pastoralists’ Alternative Perspectives on Sustainability,' Blog, Nomadic Peoples, Volume 25, Number 1, Spring 2021

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Ian Scoones

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

published by
White Horse Press
Scoones, Ian


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