Air QualityEnvironment & ClimateSustainability

Rewilding. Naturally encouraging biodiversity by giving nature back the reins.

By July 6, 2022 No Comments

“Rewilding is restoration by letting go, allowing nature to take the driving seat” Isabella Tree, Rewilding pioneer, author of ‘Wilding’

Although technology is giving humans some incredible solutions to improve air quality, reduce carbon & support the battle against advancing climate change; in amongst this, there has to be a place for nature & how a natural approach can also be effective in addressing climate issues.

Embracing our green spaces, preserving vast swathes of parklands, increasing pasture/meadow (UK) planting trees, replacing hedgerows, planting forests, preserving mangroves/peat bogs & encouraging landowners, private individuals as well as policy makers & government bodies to support this ethos; is as equally important as electric cars, carbon capture & sustainable energy production.

The sad fact of our current situation is the destruction of Earth’s natural resources by humans. There is simply no getting away from the fact that since the industrial revolution transformed the way humans live their lives & with the global population being unsustainable; the human need to harvest natural resources faster than they can restore themselves, is out of control.

However, there is an upward & positive trend happening around the world & it is the practise of what has become known as ‘Rewilding’.

“Rewilding, in essence, is giving the land back to wildlife, and wildlife back to the land.” John Davis, Executive Director,

Rewilding is comprehensive, often large-scale, conservation effort focused on restoring sustainable biodiversity & ecosystem health by protecting core wild/wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and highly interactive species (keystone species). (1)

The ultimate goal of rewilding efforts is to mitigate the species extinction crisis & restore healthy & sustainable ecosystem function in areas that require little or no human intervention or management.(1)

One of the leading rewilding projects in the UK is found at the Knepp Estate, Sussex. The Knepp Estate & family farm having been intensely farmed for decades, finally could not keep up with constant costs of improvements, diversification & the expectations of the EU & UK Government & formally was closed down in 2000.

Once the family farm (inherited by Charlie Burrell in 1987) had been closed in 2000 & all of the dairy farming herds & farming equipment sold on; in 2002 the Knepp Estate won Countryside Stewardship funding to restore the Repton park in the middle of the Estate.

Following a successful reintroduction of pasture, adoption of a new mindset to let nature take back control & subsequent reintroduction of fallow deer to the park; it was then that Charlie had the ‘epiphany’ vision he had for the land.

The process he had in mind was known as a ‘process-led’, non-goal-orientated project where, as far as possible, nature takes the driving seat – an approach which has come to be known as ‘rewilding’(2)

Knepp is now a leading light in the conservation movement, an experiment that has produced astonishing wildlife successes in a relatively short space of time & offers solutions for some of our most pressing problems – like soil restoration, flood mitigation, water & air purification, pollinating insects & carbon sequestration. (2)

Using grazing animals as the drivers of habitat creation, & with the restoration of dynamic, natural water courses, the project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. Extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons & purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp & for the first time in 600 years, they now have Storks nesting on the estate (3)

But how can others learn from the Knepp Estate example & is Rewilding possible anywhere?

One of the projects currently underway at the Knepp Estate is to offer Farmers, Landowners & policy makers workshops & hands on experiences to share the knowledge for how they too can introduce Rewilding to their land. One of the key projects currently underway is to create a wild corridor from Knepp down to the South Coast, which would allow wildlife access to move from one protected area to another.

One Farmer based in Littlehampton, already aware that most of his land could be under sea level by 2050; has already made plans to rewild his land &, like the Knepp Estate, explore the process of Eco Tourism as an alternative income to the traditions of his farming life.

As part of the Knepp Estate rewilding project, they have tapped into the Eco Tourism market offering Wildlife Safaris throughout the year, offering people the opportunity to experience wildlife & nature in all it’s glory, whilst also offering education & workshops for paying guests.

Rewilding as a process-led return to nature, is seeing the reintroduction of some of our extinct wildlife being reintroduced to habitats once decimated by human intervention & is an incredible opportunity for landowners, famers & policy makers alike to make an impact by letting nature take back the reins.

Written & cited by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2.