Why is it important?
We are living in the midst of biodiversity and climate crises. The planet is warming and changing as a result of our actions, and at the same time we have depleted our biodiversity; more than 60% of our species have been depleted in the last 50 years, many now facing near extinction from the UK. Rewilding can help all of this.
The work at Knepp and other places has shown that by allowing nature to take the lead, and then by replicating the processes that wild herbivores would have done back when the land was ‘wild’, you can very quickly reverse the decline in biodiversity and allow ecosystems to recover naturally. We have tried for too long to do this ourselves, but we only really understand a little of how nature works, and so we just end up controlling it for our own well-intentioned ends. Rewilding doesn’t have an end, intentioned or otherwise, it allows nature to make that decision.
Rewilding is also important in that it improves soil, air and water quality, it can prevent flooding, and is great at sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere. Furthermore, it has huge benefits for health and wellbeing, enabling people to get closer to nature. It creates spaces in which there are free roaming herbivores – such as rare breed cattle, pigs or boar, deer, horses, beavers – often all mingled together in one single space, so people can interact with nature in a way that contemporary agriculture doesn’t allow. In a world in which we are so disconnected with nature, this is more important than ever.