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Rewilding Could Help the UK Fight Climate Crisis

Monica Hayford introduces the exciting prospect of rewilding projects across Britain and Ireland

Photo by Artur Stanulevich

One of the most effective and inexpensive ways to combat the climate crisis is to ‘rewild’ areas in order to boost dwindling wildlife populations.

‘Rewilding’ can be described as the process of restoring natural habitats which may have been degraded due to human activity to their former glory in order to reinvigorate the nature in those areas to the point at which it can look after itself again.

Benefits of Rewilding

At least 300,000 acres of land could be “rewilded” in the next three years with the aid of a scheme that claims to tackle the nature and climate crisis. Rewilding Britain is a campaign group that is the first and only country-wide organisation in Britain focusing on rewilding. They want to see rewilding flourishing across Britain and encourage a wide diversity of views on how the country’s wildlife can be looked after, inspiring creative thinking in the process.

The charity is encouraging all of us to engage with rewilding by getting involved with broader projects in areas such as forests, meadows and rivers, but it’s also something everyone can do on a smaller scale. Planting plants which are particularly helpful to species such as bees in your own garden can be enough to help the local ecosystem.

10 Exciting UK Rewilding Projects

Intriguing rewilding projects are already popping up all over the UK and Ireland in an effort to promote biodiversity and protect species on the edge of extinction.

  • Carrifan Wildwood, Scottish Uplands: Carrifran Wildwood in the Moffat Hills in southern Scotland is a 1600-acre ice-carved valley. This project (the Wildwood Project) began when a group of friends gained over 1000 supporters and purchased the glen in 2000. Since then, they have planted over 600,000 native trees.

  • Dingle Marshes, Suffolk: The biggest freshwater reedbed in the UK is here, as are 93 hectares of wild marshland protected by the RSPB. This location is on the coast, meaning a mixture of freshwater and coastal water birds can be spotted.

  • The Great Fen, Huntingdon: This project in Cambridgeshire was started in 2001, and joined two nature reserves that were threatened. A vision of land and wildlife restoration at the new reserve has led to big things being achieved, such as stabilising water levels and restoring reedbeds.

  • Knepp Wildland, West Sussex: My family have visited this place and say it is lovely. The castle estate in which the project lies was taken over by Charles Burrell (an English landowner and conservationist) in 1987. He and his wife were inspired by the undisturbed Oostvaardersplassen Reserve in Holland, and wanted to emulate the natural haven on British soil, centred around natural water courses.

  • Nigg Bay Nature Reserve, the Cromarty Firth: This is a coastal realignment scheme that involves breaching sea walls to flood a 25-hectare area of farmland in 2003 to create a haven for water birds who have limited spaces in which to live and breed.

  • Pumlumom Project, Welsh Uplands: This project began in 2007, and aims to build a sustainable upland habitat across 40,000 hectares of the Cambrian Mountains. The aim is to do this through storing flood water, reintroducing species, changing livestock grazing patterns, and developing green tourism.

  • Soar and Wreake Valley Living Landscape, Leicestershire: The longest river in Leicestershire is the River Soar which has been industrialised over the years. Now the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust are working to rewild the floodplains here, preventing further building along the river.

  • Pine Marten Recovery Project, Mid Wales: The Vincent Wildlife Trust (founded 1975) focusses on conserving threatened mammals such as bats and mustelids in this area. They plan on reintroducing pine martens into the area by transporting a population from Scotland and releasing them into the wild into the Welsh forest.

  • Wild Ennerdale, Cumbria: This is a partnership between the Forestry Commission, National Trust and United Utilities. They want to create a wild valley on the edge of the Lake District National Park where natural processes decide how it is shaped.

  • Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, County Mayo: In Ireland’s first wilderness project in which nature itself will dictate how the area is rewilded, 8,000 hectares, including one of the last intact active bog systems in Western Europe, have been set aside for the ambitious project. The project site will be split into three main areas: Primitive; Semi Primitive; and Developed Natural (Greaves), allowing for different species to flourish.

It’s hoped that these projects will aid in reinvigorating regional ecosystems, and if the initiative catches on at a national level, such rejuvenation could be seen to improve the overall environmental status of the whole country.


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