Wilding landscape

Rewilding is an approach to restoring biodiversity and ecosystem health by working towards returning habitats back to their natural state. Rewilding is commonly misrepresented as the reintroduction of large and glamorous wild animals and the removal of people and human activity from the landscape, but this is very rarely the case.  

Rewilding can involve a variety of approaches and drivers but with a common goal of encouraging habitat recovery. Also, by improving biodiversity, rewilding projects may provide other ecosystem benefits like carbon capture, protecting water quality or exporting pollination services.

Species reintroductions can play an important role in some rewilding projects particularly where the species in question drives habitat restoration. This is very much the case for beaver reintroductions which have been shown to not only create biodiverse wetland habitats as a result of their damming activities, but also to regulate river flow and so prevent flooding. Beavers are an example of a high profile species where their presence can bring benefits to both nature and people. But species reintroductions are not necessary for rewilding projects to deliver such benefits and when they do occur they are as likely to involve far less conspicuous species such as invertebrates and rare plants.

One common misconception about rewilding projects is that they seek to remove human activity from landscapes. In fact there are many ways that rewilded landscapes can provide opportunities for people such as tourism, education and food production. Farmers and other landowners are vital to maintaining and enhancing our natural landscape as part of the drive to produce high quality affordable food.  RSK Wilding have a vision where ecologists work in partnership with landowners to deliver biodiversity gain alongside sustainable quality food production and other benefits for humanity. We also see this as an enormous opportunity for the farming industry to secure income through Biodiversity Net Gain or Carbon Credit payments in return for integrating habitat restoration into their business models..

See resources around Rewilding on Table Debates here.

 

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IAgrE webinar with Mark Kibblewhite, environmental chemist and chair of Dorset Wildlife Trust, on Wilding opportunities for agricultural engineers  

 

View Mark's LinkedIn post

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See Series of Letters on Table Debates about whether UK rewilding could affect global biodiversity through displaced production - 

“My concern with rewilding in the UK is that, while it may lead to biodiversity gains here, there is a real risk that it will do so at the expense of natural habitats elsewhere… every hectare of farmland lost in the UK could require several hectares overseas to replace it.” 

- David Williams

“Rather than asking whether to ‘do’ or ‘not do’ rewilding, we could instead ask whether it is beneficial to dial up any of the rewilding principles… the choice between farming and rewilding is a false dichotomy, because delivering both food production and nature recovery is not a zero-sum game.” 
- Benedict Dempsey and Alec Taylor

 https://tabledebates.org/letterbox/how-will-rewilding-affect-global-biodiversity

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Connected Content

In our first workshop of the season and as part of the Countryside COP programme we met to introduce YEN Zero and discuss productivity and land use as it relates to crops and GHG emissions, addressing the questions: What is the role of productivity in reaching net zero agriculture? How do we balance meeting food demand while protecting our environment? Should we be ‘sparing’ land for nature or ‘sharing’ our agricultural land with nature?

Are environmental benefits (carbon, biodiversity...) best served by sharing agricultural land with nature, or by maximising yield in some areas to spare tracts of land exclusively for nature in other areas?  

The challenges of creating an enduring system for Lansdcape Recovery….  

RSK is a global leader in the delivery of sustainable solutions. Our family of over 150 environmental, engineering and technical services businesses works together to provide practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges societies have ever faced.   

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Biodiversity encompasses all the variety of life on Earth from genes to species, populations, communities and ecosystems. In ecological and environmental sectors, we mostly refer to the biodiversity of plant and animal communities within particular habitats.

The government’s adviser for the natural environment in England. We help to protect and restore our natural world.  

Policy plays a critical role in shaping the agriculture industry in the UK and Europe. Government policies can have a major impact on the way that farmers operate, the crops they grow, and the prices they receive for their products. Policy has a major effect on how land is managed and environmental outcomes.

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WWF

WWF supports lots of work on sustainable agriculture in a partnership with Tesco.

Land of Plenty is WWF's blueprint for how the agriculture and land use sectors in the UK can help fight climate change and bring nature back to life.

One of the schemes of ELMs

Where does rewilding sit in the future of food and agriculture? Rewilding is a contested term, described by some as laying a foundation for global biodiversity restoration and by others as a threat to human and non-human life in the countryside. This explainer explores how and why people disagree about rewilding, compares its various definitions, and considers how the rewilding debate ties in with different visions for the future of food.

Bringing the real food and farming movement together. Every January the Oxford Real Farming Conference connects people in the UK and around the globe who want to transform our food and farming system. The ORFC23 is taking place between 4th-6th January 2023 - see our event page for more details in the 'recommended content' section below.

This piece is a brief summary of the TABLE Explainer Rewilding and its implications for agriculture and aims to illuminate key debates surrounding rewilding.

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As custodians of the landscape all farmers have responsibility to the wildlife and nature on their farms.  There are many networks, organisations, advisors and initiatives seeking to help farmers enhance wildlife and biodiversity. Increasingly this is being supported by Defra through ELMS and Local Nature Recovery schemes 

The concept of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an important component of the UK Government's ambitions to reverse biodiversity loss. It provides a framework for ensuring that development and land management activities leave habitats in a measurably better state than beforehand. 

Land use refers to the way that land is used and managed for various purposes, such as agriculture, housing, industry, and recreation.

E-Planner is a free tool developed by UKCEH to help farmers and other land mangers identify the most suitable places for different environmental management actions via easy to use, interactive maps.

Where does rewilding sit in the future of food and agriculture? Rewilding is a contested term, de

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