Posted: 14 Nov 2022 by Lauren Garghan

Rewilding: stand back and let nature do its thing

Rewilding: stand back and let nature do its thing

Rewilding has become a popular venture for restoring the natural environment. It aims to restore large-scale ecosystems, reverse the loss of biodiversity and return things to where nature can take care of itself. Corporations have found it to be an attractive prospect for offsetting their carbon footprint, attracting some controversy and speculation. So is rewilding as much of a progressive move for the environment as it’s made out to be?

The five principles

Rewilding in Britain has a clear set of goals. The vision for this project is to return around 25% of Britain to nature-friendly land and water usage through:

  1.  Supporting both people and nature: so that humans and the natural environment can coexist within a flourishing ecosystem
  2. Letting nature lead the way: allowing flexibility for natural river flow, grazing and predation
  3. Creating strong local economies: that will provide resilient livelihoods for locals that compliment nature
  4. Working to nature’s scale: allowing space for nature to drive and sculpt its own living systems that people rely on
  5. Securing prosperity for the long-term: through the creation of a sustainable natural environment that can continue to provide for future generations

Why rewilding?

Britain’s mission to rewild was born out of some very harsh statistics. Over half of wild species are in decline and 15% of that group is facing extinction. The majority of Britain’s top predators have now already been hunted into extinction. Plus, only 2.5% of the land equates to native woodland. On top of that, marine life within Britain’s seas is being overfished to meet unsustainable demands. 

 And so rewilding has attracted both philanthropic businesses and large brands to its mission. This in turn has become a process by which these entities buy up large quantities of Britain’s land for the purpose of rewilding.

Rewilding: stand back and let nature do its thing

Scotland’s largest private landowners

ASOS billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen has now acquired a total of 220,000 acres of land in the Scottish highlands. Together with his wife Anne, they have put together a ‘200-year vision’ for a restoration that will benefit future generations.

However, the garment industry can be one of the most polluting industries on the planet. Manufacturing, shipping and the wastage of this product equates to a huge cost in global emissions. 

Is their 200 year vision enough? 

The wider implications

Land mass in Britain is not an abundant resource. The mass buying of land by the wealthy will have a detrimental effect on the way land is priced. In the last year alone, the average price of land in Scotland has increased by 87% according to research by the estate agent Strutt & Parker. This will likely only accelerate the existing rural housing crisis.

Thinking back over the five principles of rewilding, this certainly seems to be at odds with supporting people as well as nature. Not to mention securing prosperity for the long term. Britain’s land markets are not heavily regulated. Therefore, with the added incentives of green subsidies and tax breaks, Britain’s land could potentially be swallowed up at an increasing rate.

   This will actively limit the amount of rural jobs and opportunities for new farmers to acquire a sustainable livelihood for themselves and future generations.

An alternative approach

Rather than sellout land to a wealthy minority, the alternative could be to take a community approach. Community buyout schemes could acquire land more affordably for more people in a democratised fashion. Councils could then restore farmland to be run by local authorities and help new farmers get a start in the industry.

The Langholm Initiative is a recent example of where this approach has been a success. The community managed to raise funds to purchase 5,200 acres of land during the global pandemic. This land included meadows, moorlands, rivers and peatland.

The community looks to further this effort by crowdfunding more capital to buy a further 5,300 acres to increase the size of their Tarras Valley Nature Reserve restoration project, one of the largest in Scotland.

Ultimately, rewilding has good intentions, no question. But it will require a more nuanced method of managing the land for it to work effectively. As always, the key lies in balance. 

How can Britain strike that healthy balance for the planet and its people?

At STAR Index, we believe in risk assessing the availability of natural assets and resources in order to determine if they can be sustainable in the future.

Discover how the STAR Index platform works by answering a few quick questions. Then we’ll send you a sample report so you can see for yourself how STAR can benefit you.   

Talk to us today!

Related content

Posted: 14 Nov 2022

Could the ‘new code’ that Unilever and Google have signed up for end Greenwashing for good?

Rewilding has become a popular venture for restoring the natural environment. It aims to restore large-scale ecosystems, reverse the loss of biodiversity and return things to where nature can take care of itself. Corporations have found it to be an attractive prospect for offsetting their carbon footprint, attracting some controversy and speculation. So is rewilding as much of a progressive move for the environment as it’s made out to be?

Read full article
Posted: 14 Nov 2022

Building nutrient neutrality into your housing development

Rewilding has become a popular venture for restoring the natural environment. It aims to restore large-scale ecosystems, reverse the loss of biodiversity and return things to where nature can take care of itself. Corporations have found it to be an attractive prospect for offsetting their carbon footprint, attracting some controversy and speculation. So is rewilding as much of a progressive move for the environment as it’s made out to be?

Read full article