Farplace supports the principle of re-wilding, for it involves the restoration of ecosystems where nature can take care of itself. It has no human-defined target but goes where nature takes it.
Benefits of Rewilding include
Improved water management and flood prevention.
Improved soil biology and reduce its erosion
At Farplace “we are amazed how much life is beside our ponds when all we did was dig them in a marsh area and leave it alone for 6 years. Ducks nest there, deer visit, it is teeming with pond life, frogs, newts and and more”
On a large scale Rewilding can involve the reintroduction of lost species which have a beneficial influence on the biodiversity of the area, called a trophic cascade.The presence of such species, referred to as a keystone species, means that other animal and plant species, including many with no obvious connection, prosper and together create a natural and sustainable process. Animals which can be classed as keystone include beavers, boar, and wolves but in the African Serengeti, it is actually the wildebeest, a herbivore, like a vegan. The UK is desperately in need of rewilding, because tragically it has become one of the most nature depleted countries in the world and has for example lost 40 million birds since 1966 (RSPB figures) and in the last 200 years has driven more species to the brink of extinction than any other country in Europe.
While our negative influence may have begun in Neolithic times 6 thousand years ago when we stopped being nomadic and established static communities, much greater change has occurred since the industrial and later agricultural revolution.
Our history is blighted by our persecution of wildlife but in recent decades the decline has become more linked to our impact on the land. The UK has become just too cultivated, grazed, fertilised, sprayed with pesticides and polluted for ecosystems and life to survive. Some other countries have “developed” along similar lines but still have sufficient natural land or wilderness for plants and animals to survive. They had some where to retreat from mans “progress”, where as nearly everywhere in the British Isles has been dominated by man and his exploited animals.
“ Sheep wrecked’
Take one example the leading environmental journalist George Monbiot believes that in upland areas sheep farming “was a slow burning ecological disaster which has done more damage to living systems than either climate change or industrial pollution”. Through no fault of their own sheep do not belong in this country and have no place in the ecosystem. Trees, shrubs and other plants get grazed by the sheep and what is left supports very little wildlife compared to areas where sheep are excluded. Such hill farming relies heavily on subsidies and the returns to society do not justify the investment.
Grounds for optimism
Despite the current crisis there is still so much potential in the UK.
82% of the population live in urban areas and only 6% of land is built on. The countryside has been managed for food production, largely animal agriculture, which is heavily subsidised and unsustainable , in many situations a better investment would be to rewild the area and let nature restore itself with subsequent benefits for all.
Rewilding Britain a charity formed in 2015 aims to have rewilded 300,000 hectares by 2030
Partly through the economy in farming and rural migration to the city, Rewilding Europe have plans to rewild a million hectares of land and encourage others to rewild 10 million more across continental Europe.
Not all rewilding needs to be on a large scale and any area can be improved for nature with the right care and management. Just stopping using peat, or peat based compost, fertilisers and pesticides and creating a pond and wildflower meadow is a good start.
Bibliography and further reading
‘ Feral’ George Monbiot
‘Wilding’ Isabella Tree
‘Rebirding’ Benedict Macdonald