In the past few decades, industrial agriculture has become one of the most destructive forces on Earth. Land has been painstakingly stripped back to its bare bones, manipulated, simplified, chemically altered and degraded to a point of extreme decimation. In fact, it is suggested that our current practises could cause arable lands to be entirely depleted and barren within 60 years.
Rewilding is a concept that conjures up many different meanings to different people; some think of themselves re-connecting to nature again, finding long lost lost roots, being more at peace and mindful outdoors and feeling part of the ecosystem to which we are a critical part of. Others think of wilderness, unruly nature restoring itself to what it once was, or long lost species returning to complete the natural cycles humankind has long since broken.
In truth, rewilding is all these things and more. It is largely about letting things be; allowing things to unfold as they wish, trusting in the natural cycles and allowing nature to restore its habitats. But primarily rewilding is allowing landscapes to return to their natural states with little to no human intervention; a form of habitat restoration that allows native plants and species to be in the right place and right time to flourish, and the process of succession to simply do it’s thang.
Five reasons to get behind rewilding
1. Rewilding builds resilience for a climate and ecological emergency
Allowing ground cover, plants and trees to grow enables a protective layer over our fragile topsoils, as well as structural assistance below ground in the form of extensive root systems. This helps greatly in extreme weather events — which are becoming increasingly frequent due to climate change — such as excessive sudden rainfall, strong winds and flooding. Additionally, rewilding helps with soil health restoration, and carbon is sequestered – in fact, a recent report states that rewilding could be part of a considerable effort in the fight against climate change.
And that’s not all. By allowing environments to grow their own locally-appropriate plants in the right place and the right time, ecosystems become far more resilient to the uncertain climatic times ahead when compared to man-made ecosystems, with a greater diversity of genetic species more adapted to survive weather extremes and climatic changes.
2. Rewilding enhances biodiversity, helping to reverse biodiversity loss
Biodiversity is absolutely essential for human survival, providing us mere mortal humans with critical ecosystem services such as pollination of food crops and flowers, waste breakdown, nutrient release, functioning soils, water and even the oxygen we breathe. With a worrying and rapid loss in biodiversity – particularly insects – rewilding helps provide habitat, food and nesting resources for much needed insects and animals.
3. Rewilding can help revitalise communities
Rewilding offers opportunities for rural communities to diversify their economies, creating income streams which are more centered on protecting and enhancing natural processes as opposed to geared towards unsustainable subsidies and grants. Rewilding projects can offer rural communities opportunities for wildlife tourism, with many other projects (such as the Osprey in ) generating large sums per year through visitors wishing to view previously-lost species and areas of wild, natural beauty.
4. Rewilding can help improve human health
Studies have shown that having more time outdoors and reconnecting to nature aids greatly in mental and physical health, decreasing stress levels, encouraging mindfulness, increasing exercise levels and providing improvement to overall well-being. Rewilding also helps with provision of reducing air pollution through phytoremediation — the ability of plants to absorb and capture pollutants, particularly in urban areas.
5. Rewilding can restore lost species and reverse some of the damage humankind has caused
Rewilding can aid greatly by completing ecosystems with missing links, particularly keystone species which have been removed due to human activity, causing immense knock-on effects. Part of some rewilding measures includes the reintroduction of keystone species which play essential roles within the ecosystem. This has been seen with great success in Scotland and Devon where beavers have been re-introduced, as well as Wales and the Forest of Dean where pine martens have been brought back into the ecosystem.
Find out more about rewilding….
Rewilding Britain: https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-principles
Rewilding Europe: https://rewildingeurope.com/what-is-rewilding/