Restoring wildlife in Britain

The European Wilderness Society welcomes the new charity, Rewilding Britain, which seeks the mass restoration of Britain’s wildlife.  The new organisation has just launched its website. Rewilding Britain aims to allow native forests to grow once more on the hills, let rivers run wild, help parts of the sea recover from industrial fishing and bring back missing species such as wild boar, lynx, pelicans and other species.

Set up as an independent charity, it has spent the last two years raising funds and gathering different viewpoints from a cross-section of individuals and organisations.

Rewilding Britain seeks to restore species that used to live here but have since become extinct or very rare. These include beavers, wild boar, cranes, pelicans, sturgeon, bluefin tuna, lynx and eventually wolves, grey whales, humpbacks and sperm whales.

Studies around the world demonstrate that reintroducing key species, which previously existed naturally as part of the food chain, can bring significant advantages in terms of encouraging biodiversity. It can be both a way of naturally managing excessive numbers of another species that are damaging ecosystems as well as stimulating more diverse patterns of wildlife and flora.

Rewilding Britain hopes to establish at least three core areas of rewilded land by 2030, which means, in each case, 100,000 hectares or more.

Rebecca Wrigley, programme manager for Rewilding Britain, said: “An important part of our work will be to inspire and inform, and build a wider movement for rewilding. Rewilding projects on the ground will be locally owned and locally run. Our new website features a selection of fantastic rewilding projects that are already up and running across Britain and beyond.”

“We hope we can gather a groundswell of support. We want to amplify the message that some pioneers have been putting out, defuse urban myths and attract new support. Rewilding is really for everyone who cares about our future. Our ecosystems need us.”

Rewilding Britain was inspired by the success of George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, sea and human life. This tapped into a hitherto-unnoticed public desire for change. Subsequent excitement about the prospects of returning beaver and lynx reinforced the belief that many people would like Britain to become a wilder place.

George Monbiot will be a key supporter of the organisation. He said: “The overwhelmingly positive response to Feral was quite unexpected. It seems the book put into words what many people were thinking and longing for. I am thrilled that it has led to the formation of Rewilding Britain.”

“The changes we’re calling for would be considered unexceptional almost anywhere else in Europe, where in many countries populations of beavers, boar, lynx and wolves are already recovering rapidly. So far the public appetite for change here has had few outlets. We want to change that, and to restore the living world and our relationship with it.”

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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