Last week Country Land & Business Association (CLA) held a webinar In Conversation with Alastair Driver, Director of Rewilding Britain. Alastair introduced what rewilding means and explained its benefits. Rewilding is large scale restoration of ecosystems and natural processes to allow nature to take care of itself. This offers a spectrum of restoration activity to aspire to.
Rewilding can open up opportunities for a range of biodiversity, wildlife, habitats, community engagement, recreation and economic interest. One concern for land availability is the need for agricultural practices, but in some cases, it might be more appropriate to retain grazing animals on farmland, and make them part of a rewilding system to encourage a wider mosaic of habitats.
Rewilding is an option to reinstate natural processes, and can be hugely beneficial on less productive land. For example, reintroduction of beavers works well in the appropriate locations and with the right amount of monitoring and management.
Landowners and scale
Alastair mentioned how interest from landowners had increased recently. Landowners want the best for their land, and are open to trying out new practices. One question which was raised in the webinar is the importance of scale for achieving successful rewilding. Alastair quickly reassured the audience that any size of land can be used to make a start, and take the first step on the spectrum, although management of the land may be more intense on a smaller piece of land. Raising community awareness and collaborating with neighbours may lead to larger land areas being used for rewilding, if a whole community appreciate the wider environmental and economic benefits.
What are the first steps for getting started?
One of the questions related to how to initiate this concept on land. Alastair suggested starting to remove grazing pressures and allowing nature to regenerate. This can let nature start to lead the way, although in some cases, planting trees can help to develop the starting process.