There has been a lot of talk recently about the definition of rewilding and the apparent lack of a definitive meaning for the movement that is gaining more and more traction in the public consciousness across the world right now.
For me, it has always been clear, but not something that can be summed up in a short sentence. So in the interests of clarity, here is my interpretation for which I believe there is a strong consensus.
Rewilding at its core is about the mass restoration of ecosystems, encompassing small, medium and large scale projects where natural processes are allowed to interact without ongoing human intervention; restoring land to its uncultivated and wild state to maximise biodiversity. The media has predictably diluted this message and instead fixated on the reintroduction of lost species – but this is just one, albeit important, ingredient for achieving the rewilding ideal. However, reinstating an ecosystem’s trophic function – and by that I mean the way in which predator, prey and plants interact – is a pivotal part of the rewilding model. Continue reading Defining Rewilding→
I was recently asked to join the SCOTLAND: THE BIG PICTURE team as a Contributing Writer and subsequently appeared in their introductory film above. As Scotland begins its rewilding journey, STBP exists as a multimedia hub combining ecological science with compelling narratives and the finest imagery to tell inspiring stories that amplify the case for a wilder Scotland.
Heartened to hear about an ambitious project to reintroduce 11 locally extinct species to Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Western Australia. The ten mammals and one bird species were once endemic to the island, but their populations declined rapidly following overgrazing by introduced sheep and goats, and from predation by feral cats. The long-term goal of the ecological restoration project is to return the island’s ecosystem back to how it would have looked and functioned when Dutch explorer, Dirk Hartog, discovered it by chance in 1616. Continue reading Rewilding on Dirk Hartog Island→
Southern Scotland could once again become a stronghold for this majestic raptor, following over £1 million of funding having now been secured by the initiative from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project seeks to substantially boost their numbers in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, with just three breeding pairs believed to exist in the regions currently. If the plans come to fruition, a further sixteen breeding pairs could be released, reinforcing what is a most precarious population. Continue reading The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project→
As someone who has followed the rewilding debate with increasing interest over the last few years, I was recently struck by how polarised the discourse has become. The ‘roots’ of rewilding appear to have been consumed by the attention-grabbing headlines of keystone species and apex predator reintroductions. Generally speaking, there has been a tendency for the media to fixate on this, along with the social and cultural implications. Meanwhile, the fundamental principles and common sense conservation practices that underpin rewilding are often lost or overlooked in the ensuing fallout. Continue reading The Essence of Rewilding→
According to the latest figures, 104 wolves spread across 11 packs now reside in the park, following their reintroduction from Canada in 1995. Nine breeding pairs have also produced at least 40 surviving pups, further bolstering their colony against a legislative backdrop that could see their legal protection from hunting abolished. The species was declared extinct in Yellowstone during 1926 following decades of intense persecution, triggering an ecological chain reaction that would adversely affect the biodiversity and overall health of the park’s wildlife. Their reintroduction has dramatically restored much of what had been degraded, as I illustrated in a previous post: Yellowstone Revival.
There’s been a lot of talk recently in Britain about grand plans for ‘ecological restoration’. But what about rewilding on a smaller scale? At a time when our garden wildlife is suffering from the effects of overly manicured lawns, pesticide-laden vegetation and a general lack of habitat connectivity, there’s never been a better time to inject some much needed wildness into your garden. Here are some suggestions on how to go about it and some information on the species that could benefit as a result. Continue reading Garden Rewilding→
This month, Scotland’s foremost conservation volunteering charity celebrated seven years of forest restoration at their flagship Dundreggan Estate, where over 255,000 trees have now been planted as part of their vision to restore the ancient Caledonian Forest in the Scottish Highlands. Just 1% of this previously rich habitat remains, and so Trees for Life has worked tirelessly since its foundation in 1989 by Alan Watson Featherstone, to regenerate this forgotten ecosystem and its unique wildlife. I was recently invited up to see their tree nursery and the surrounding area, and was impressed with the scale of the project and the progress they’ve made since taking ownership of the upland habitat which had lost much of its tree cover and was overgrazed by deer and sheep.
So today’s thought of the day is a brief amalgamation of contemplations surrounding the issue of rewilding – an ideology that’s stirred up a lot of mostly healthy debate about how to go about restoring our deficient and degraded ecosystems in Britain.
As an advocate of this cause, having spent countless hours walking through barren habitats devoid of nutrients and any sign of wildness, I’ve been watching the discussions unfold with great interest. My first observation: it’s really captured the imagination of the country and got the masses talking about our wildlife, its conservation and how we can improve it for the future, so that can only be a good thing. But as the commentary gathers pace, I’m increasingly hearing misguided and ill-informed opinion on the matter, including…
Today’s musing comes from having watched a commendably substantial news feature about the notion of rewilding on Britain’s Channel 4 news yesterday evening. One argument voiced during the discussion against the ecological restoration ethos was: why are we talking about reintroducing species that have become extinct when so many of our current species are endangered? Won’t this be detrimental to our existing flora and fauna? Should we not concentrate on conserving these creatures instead? This is a point of view I’ve been hearing more and more recently from those opposing the rewilding plans, and I think it completely misses the point; as the rewilding movement serves to address the very issues that have led to the neglect of our native wildlife. Continue reading Hollow Arguments From Rewilding Opponents→