In an ideal world, we’d appreciate all natural environments for the sake of their own existence more so than for what they provide for humans. This is only beginning to become the case on a larger scale, as there are movements to protect wonders of the world such as the Amazon Rainforest not for the shade the trees provide or adventurous weekends kayaking on the Amazon River, but for the habitat it provides for millions of plant and animal species that would be wiped out in the event of its destruction. The polar ice caps similarly do not create an environmental concern for their beauty, but for the sake of polar bears and other creatures who need land masses to not drown.
These examples take a strong leaning within the New Ecological Paradigm, which seeks to challenge the quasi-biblical idea that humanity’s intelligence has given our species a claim to the earth and its resources. While this paradigm stresses the idea that each species should be granted with undeterred survival simply based on its existence, it also emphasizes that humans are no more exceptional than any other species. Therefore, solving our environmental challenges can be approached using the New Ecological Paradigm: we should also protect the rain forests for the important ingredients for cancer-curing medications they contain and the polar ice caps to prevent entire nations from sinking, creating millions of climate refugees.
NEP also stresses the recognition of natural sites as culturally significant, as opposed to the Human Exemptionalist Paradigm which takes a more capitalistic, human-centric approached. Under an HEP thought process, Kylander’s trunk and branches may be seen as firewood or a means to make cork; thus how he got his family name, Amur Corktree. His leaves would be turned to mulch or fertilizer–mixed with additives of course rather than the natural one that is created when they fall every autumn and benefit the entire ecosystem rather than simply one person’s backyard. He’d live on through seeds that have been scattered around throughout time, however the trees that would come from them would face a similar fate.
From an NEP-based perspective, Kylander would still provide much use to his community, however he is able to do so without being completely destroyed. He’d be both a home to the small animals such as squirrels that run around campus, a relaxing place to sit after a long day, a source of shade (once he grows bigger, that is–a chance he may not get under HEP thought), and even simply an aesthetically pleasing aspect of the admissions building. While Kylander may not have a large scale impact on the planet like the polar ice caps or Amazon rain forest, he still plays an important role in a community.