Rewilding Scotland: The importance of a whole system approach

September 21, 2020

RSK Biocensus Director Steph Wray has featured in The Scotsman discussing the importance of a ‘whole system’ approach to rewilding. In an article published last week, Steph said, “the prospect of wild or exotic animals that have been lost for hundreds of years or never before seen in Britain being reintroduced into our countryside generates plenty of excitement. But, with much of the focus on bringing in ‘superstar species’ at the top of the ladder, we risk losing sight that rewilding requires a ground-up as well as a top-down approach in order for the whole biodiversity chain to thrive.”

Scotland has recently seen several successful rewilding efforts, from golden eagles in the highlands rearing offspring to beavers being successfully returned to the wild. However, “these success stories mask the fact that we’re facing a wider crisis in conservation,” says Steph. A recent report by the Mammal Society shows that a quarter of the UK’s mammal species, such as red squirrels and water voles, are at risk of extinction.

“Many people’s perception of what rewilding means has been influenced by stories of the reintroduction of long-lost species,” Steph explains. “But, in fact, rewilding can be anything from reintroducing the likes of wolves to an area to more basic interventions, such as digging ponds, introducing dormice or beavers to a site, planting trees or reinstating peatland, or simply leaving land to ‘do its own thing’. The crucial thing is that we need a whole system approach.”

You can read Steph’s full article, ‘Rewilding Scotland: Hopes of returning bison, wolves and lynx should not overshadow loss of less high-profile species,’ at The Scotsman online.