The British and Irish landscape has been altered so much that very little of it can be truly called wild. Trees were felled, peat bogs drained, rivers and streams dammed or redirected; and large mammals such as wolves, bears, lynx, beavers, aurochs and wild boar were hunted to extinction. Taking their place were sheep, cows, deer and fields upon fields of crops. In other words, biodiversity was reduced, habitats destroyed and ecosystems unbalanced.
The concept of rewilding is about addressing that imbalance. It’s about restoring ecosystems by re-introducing animals and plants to areas from which they have disappeared. It’s about allowing nature to manage itself. The hope is that the damage can be undone and that everyone and everything will benefit from it.
Rewilding – Real Life Stories of Returning British and Irish Wildlife to Balance
REWILDING (William Collins, £17.99) is a collection of true stories about how people are doing this. Collected and edited by photographer and conservationist David Woodfall, this book looks at over 50 successful examples of rewilding in Britain and Ireland: from the Scottish Highlands to the bogs of Ireland, the Welsh valleys to cities and gardens. It’s a collection of essays illustrated by David’s pictures and written by those on the ground who are pushing for change and a more wholesome approach to conservation.
Some of the stories are of large, long-term projects such as the Alladale Wildlife Reserve and Knepp Estates. There are also stories from those doing seemingly little things which have made a big difference to the animals and plants returning to those areas. What all of the stories have in common is the people behind them – their dedication and determination to conserve habitats and ecosystems, and to share their passion with others.
You can also click on the links below to read about some of the projects mentioned in the book: