Ever since famed Harvard scientist E.O.Wilson developed the idea of "biodiversity" – that humans, animals and all life on Earth are interconnected and ultimately dependent on one another – more and more people are reconsidering their roles in the natural world.
Yellowstone to Yukon is putting that scientific knowledge to practical use by creating safe passages for wildlife. Here are some helpful facts to help explain what Y2Y is all about.
1. It's important and necessary
Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of iStock/kwiktor
The 2,000-mile swath of land between Yellowstone National Park and the Yukon of Canada is one of the last remaining intact mountain ecosystems left on Earth. Y2Y is the only organization completely dedicated to preserving this incredibly important ecosystem.
2. It's very big
"Grand Canyon" of Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Coming in at twice the size of Texas, this conservation project is one of the most ambitious conservation projects in history.
3. It will support an incredible diversity of plants and animals
Grizzly bear of Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of Kira Cassidy
The vision of Y2Y, "an interconnected system of wild lands and waters stretching from Yellowstone to Yukon, harmonizing the needs of people with those of nature" is based on the the scientific theory of "nature corridors." Nature corridors allow animals like grizzlies, wolves, elk, bison and mountain lions the space needed to maintain healthy populations.
4. It will be a challenge to complete
Black bear mother and cubs in Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Since the corridor will rely on the cooperation of ranchers and private land-developers, changing minds about the important role of nature in our modern world may be just as challenging as funding.
5. It benefits large ecosystems
Thermal pool of Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Since the headwaters of key river systems that run to the Arctic, the Hudson, the Gulf and the Pacific originate in the Y2Y zone, protecting the Y2Y ecosystem creates a benefit far beyond its borders.
6. Other parts of the world have created similar corridors
Elephants of India — Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Many countries are realizing that protecting their natural resources through corridors and connectivity benefits everyone. In India, for example, the Siju-Rewak Corridor helps preserve an endangered elephant population.
7. It will be expensive
Yellowstone Arch at North Entrance — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
As a huge non-profit collaboration between the US and Canada, Y2Y is an ambitious, multi-million dollar project. For those interested and able, visit their official website for ways to support this important organization.
8. It will benefit future generations
Baby bison of Yellowstone National Park — Photo courtesy of Kira Cassidy
"Y2Y is a direct response to climate change," Y2Y President and Chief Scientist Jodi Hilty said. Keeping a large amount of land mostly undeveloped will help both animals and humans combat the current – and future – effects of climate change.
9. It will continue to use cutting edge technology and scientific methods
The Butte Junction wolf pack of Lamar Valley in Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of Kira Cassidy
The technology of radio-collaring allows scientists to determine just how far and wide wildlife roam. The broad range of Pluie, a radio-collared wolf that wandered ten times the area of Yellowstone, revealed just how much room certain types of wildlife need to survive.
10. How you can help make it happen
A ranger explains bison behavior in Yellowstone — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Besides donating time and/or money, educating oneself about the importance of healthy ecosystems is key. During this centennial anniversary of the National Parks, visit a national park and take a ranger-guided walk to learn about our country's most significant resources.