Independent newspaper publishes an opinion piece on rewilding Britain by RSK’s Jon Davies

February 23, 2021

Jon Davies, Head of RSK Wilding, is on a mission: to use the buzz around rewilding to restore nature while providing financial benefits to landowners and numerous other advantages to society as a whole.

In his article for the Independent, Jon discusses what a wilder Britain might look like and considers a recent government report that analyses the economics of biodiversity. “Allowing ecosystems to regenerate with minimal intervention,” the report reads, “has increasingly been shown to be successful and cost-effective”.

The new government approach, Jon hopes, will “herald a big push towards rewilding Britain, following, as it does, the government’s November pledge of £40 million for restoring green spaces, and September’s commitment to restoring 30 per cent of Britain to nature by 2030”.

Correcting misconceptions

One common misconception regarding the ecological value of our landscapes is the importance placed on Britain’s national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and other protected areas. These green places are not the biodiverse, nature-conservation areas that you would expect: they support vast stretches of agricultural land. Locations overgrazed by livestock have very little biodiversity. Instead, we should look to the 10 per cent of land that is currently protected for nature. Jon wonders what would happen if more land in Britain were returned to a more natural state.

“A rewilded Britain would not be a pastoral idyll in which we all picnicked among Wind in the Willows-style animals. Neither would it be a dangerous place in which apex predators like wolves, lynx and wildcats roamed free and invaded our dreams.” Jon stresses that rewilding land is a more “benign and less threatening” process, but that it will not look as picture-perfect as scenes in national parks. Rather, it will be messy and impassable, but that is the point. “Rewilding encourages a wide variety of plants, fungi, birds and insect life,” Jon explains in more detail; it doesn’t mean simply “introducing new species of charismatic mammals”.

Crucially, writes Jon, we need to understand that the greatest value in rewilded land is not just in its burgeoning biodiversity, and the accompanying pleasure this gives us, but also in the other ecosystem services that rewilded land provides. Consider cleaner air, unpolluted water, healthier soil and even protection from flooding: rewilded land can grasp rainwater in its soggy embrace. Most importantly, a wild habitat left alone is naturally capable of capturing carbon dioxide. But our contributions can be much closer to home. While in lockdown, you could rewild your garden and turn it into a place where birds and flying insects can stop to rest and feed as they move between areas. “All it takes,” Jon writes “is a pond and a pack of wildflower seeds. And a collective national effort.”

Click on the link above or here to read the full, free, informative and well-researched article online.