WHAT IS "REWILDING"?

 

“A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.”

– An excerpt from Thinking Like a Mountain’ by Aldo Leopold

 

What does it all mean?

 

Rewilding is the mass restoration of ecosystems for the benefit of wildlife, human life and the planet as a whole.

Conceptually rewilding is about fasciliating the return of the natural drivers of ecosystem function. Through many a millennia, mother nature grew every tool necessary for the maintenance of a healthy and hospitable planet.

 

Oxygen to breathe, food to eat, fresh water, beautiful landscapes and more. 

But whether it be through ailing flood defences, climate change or deforestation. Many a number of environmental disasters have begun to illustrate that on this planet we are as much the landlord as the lodger.

 

We cannot rebuild the natural processes we have lost. Sadly many of the ecosystem drivers of the past are long extinct.

However through careful planning and scientific reason we can begin to restore many of the dynamic processes which would have once existed. And in few places is the potential for restoration greater than in Great Britain.

 

Other terms

 

Keystone species – a species whose effect upon its ecosystem is disproportionate to its abundance.

Trophic cascade – an interaction that results from the reintroduction of a species at the top of the food chain with knock-on effects tumble down through the whole ecosystem. For enlightening video of how it works see here.

Ecosystem services – the benefits people obtain from ecosystems.

Ecosystem engineers – species that modify the structure of ecosystems.

Homeostasis – the property of a complex system such as a living organism or an ecosystem to be able to regulate its own internal state, usually via negative feedback mechanisms regulating key variables within the system.

                                                                                                                                            

Further Reading

References

Hood, G. A., & Larson, D. G. (2014). Ecological engineering and aquatic connectivity: a new perspective from beaver‐modified wetlands. Freshwater Biology, doi: 10.1111/fwb.12487

Nolet, B.A. & Rosell, F. (1998). “Comeback of the beaver Castor fiber: an overview of old and new conservation problems”. Biological Conservation 83(2):165–173.

Further reading

Monbiot, 2013. “Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding.”

Fair, 2014. An Environmental Superstar? BBC Wildlife, May 2014, pp. 68-72

Angling Trust, 2014. Angling trust welcomes action to remove beavers, July 2014. URL: http://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?itemid=2189&itemTitle=Angling+Trust+Welcomes+Action+to+Remove+Beavers+from+Devon+River&section=29&sectionTitle=Angling+Trust+News

Lloyd M. Letter to Owen Paterson, May 2014. URL: http://www.anglingtrust.net/core/core_picker/download.asp?id=5458&filetitle=Letter+to+Owen+Paterson+about+Beavers+May+2014

de Mauley, Lord R. Letter to Mark Lloyd, June 2014. URL: http://www.anglingtrust.net/core/core_picker/download.asp?id=5459&filetitle=Letter+from+Defra+to+Angling+Trust+about+Beavers+June+2014

DEFRA, 2012. What is the risk of introducing Echinococcus multilocularis to the UK wildlife population by importing European beavers which subsequently escape or are released? Qualitative Risk Assessment, June 2012. URL: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130822084033/http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/files/qra-non-native-species-echinoccocus-120627.pdf

Juniper T., 2013. “What has Nature ever done for us?” Profile Books.

Gray J., 2013. Reintroducing beavers to the UK.  Salmon & Trout Association Briefing Paper. URL:http://www.salmon-trout.org/pdf/Briefing%20Paper%20Beavers%20Charity.pdf