Mountains at sunset

Rewilding in Great Britain

You may have heard of “Rewilding” but what’s it all about?

Rewilding is about land management. It is about reversing the changes which have occurred over time through modern day living, farming and climate change. It can also mean re-introduction of species.

There are however different ways to interpret rewilding and different definitions. For some it can mean going back to a point before any intervention by man but more modern definitions are inclusive of people who can live sustainably as part of the landscape.

Some examples of re-wilding projects include:

‘Wild Ennerdale’ in the Lake District which began in 2003

This was to restore some ‘naturalness’ to the Spruce plantations (began in the 1920’s) and have less human intervention. Native trees were re-introduced and sheep grazing replaced with Galloway cattle. The Marsh Fritillary butterfly has been re-introduced which was extinct in Cumbria and boundary fences have also been removed.

Carrifran Wood in the Scottish Borders which started in the late 90’s

Which aims to restore an over-grazed barren glen to a largely wooded land like it was 6000yrs ago. Over 75000 trees planted, sheep and goats are kept out and Roe deer have been culled. A sea of woodland is now apparent which is home to many birds and species.

Re-introduction of white tailed eagles onto Mull (‘Sea eagles’)

Started in 1972 with 82 young eagles brought over from Norway. Initially on Rum they flew to Mull where they began nesting. It took a long time to get going (none bred successfully for the first 9 years) but very slowly numbers increased and there are now 100 nesting pairs.

There is currently a project being considered which may see the re-introduction of Lynx into parts of Northumberland.

Don’t assume however it’s all wild open spaces of hundred of acres. There are many projects on the go which are smaller and closer to urban environments. Wildlife / woodland trusts and the RSPB all have projects to restore habitats such as woods and hay meadows.

Each project undergoes an assessment and has to stick to EU guidelines. Natural England are in charge of this process. The reason being that not all projects will be a success if not thought through. For example, there is no point introducing a species into a habitat which is not in good enough condition for the species to survive. Ultimately there must be community support too and buy in from those who make their living from the land.

Benefits are not only to the ecological systems but also these projects have the power to excite people about nature too. Rewilding is a way to restore our connection to nature, reconnect with landscapes and educate future generations.

Please get in touch if you have any thoughts of your own on Rewilding.