I’ve had a few conversations about conservation recently and how it differs from rewilding, and how that in turn is different from just abandoning land. To shed a little light on the matter, it’s worth looking the four principles of rewilding that the charity Rewilding Britain describe.
- People are still involved – ‘rewilding is a choice of land management’, and people can still use the land. You’d want to stick to nature-based enterprises as much as possible, but it’s not about creating no-go areas. After all, part of the reason to create more wild areas is that we enjoy visiting them.
- Nature is in charge – rewilding aims to free up the land, and then let nature take its course. There’s no ideal in mind for what happens next. Some management may be required, certainly at the start, if ecosystems aren’t functioning as they should. But once they are, let it go where it wants to go.
- Scale is important – if you were planning to rewild your back garden, that’s just going to look like neglect for the most part. Rewilding works better with larger areas and with buffer zones in between wild areas and managed areas. In Britain, the rewilders have their eye on the Scottish Highlands.
- It’s a long term plan – it will take a long time to restore damaged landscapes and let nature reshape them. It’s an inter-generational strategy, a gift from the present to the future. If we were to start the process in the Highlands now, most of us wouldn’t live to see it in all its glory. But our children would begin to see it emerging, and every generation thereafter.
I think rewilding is a uniquely exciting project, when you consider the large scale and long term vision of it. It’s a pretty new idea – Rewilding Britain is only a couple of years old – but I look forward to seeing how the movement takes shape.