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A guide to rewilding your backyard

  • by JW

Digging and scrubbing around helps to create landscapes that attract all manner of wildlife.


The ideas and practice of ‘rewilding’ are gaining ground:

Wild bison to be reintroduced after 15,000 years as part of ‘groundbreaking’ rewilding conservation scheme |

Green entrepreneur aims to combat climate crisis with rewilding project on newly-acquired estate overlooking Loch Ness


And in these parts too:

Rewilding in Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth

On the River Otter: successful rewilding of the beaver – Vision Group for Sidmouth


The showcase project is the Knepp estate in West Sussex:

Grazing Ecology — Knepp Wildland

The inspiration for this is an even larger project – in the unlikeliest of places:

Oostvaardersplassen – Wikipedia

Rebuilding a World Before Humans | The New Yorker

Which in turn looks to an even larger project:

Pleistocene rewilding – Wikipedia

Pleistocene Park – Wikipedia

Scientist dedicated to fighting climate change moved to Siberia to stop the thawing of permafrost | Daily Mail Online

But these things are also possible in Britain.

Charlie Burrell of Knepp is also chair of Rewilding Britain:

Welcome – Rewilding Britain

With the latest reintroduction happening in Kent:

Bison to be reintroduced into Britain 101 years after becoming extinct in Europe |


Later this month, “the first popular book on the ground-breaking science behind the restoration of wild nature” will be published in paperback:


Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery

As ecologists Paul Jepson and Cain Blythe show, rewilding is a new and progressive approach to conservation, blending radical scientific insights with practical innovations to revive ecological processes, benefiting people as well as nature. Its goal is to restore lost interactions between animals, plants and natural disturbance that are the essence of thriving ecosystems.

With its sense of hope and purpose, rewilding is breathing new life into the conservation movement, and enabling a growing number of people – even urban-dwellers – to enjoy thrilling wildlife experiences previously accessible only in remote wilderness reserves. ‘De-domesticated’ horses galloping across a Dutch ‘Serengeti’; beavers creating wetlands in the British countryside; giant tortoises restoring the wildlife of the Mauritian islands; perhaps one day even rhinos roaming the Australian outback – rewilding is full of exciting and inspirational possibilities.

Rewilding by Paul Jepson, Cain Blythe | Waterstones


Tow Bawden takes a look at the book – and shows that we can all do a bit of rewilding, even in our own back gardens:


Behaving like a pig works wonders for biodiversity in your garden

Exclusive: Leading rewilding experts say digging and scrubbing around helps to create landscapes that attract all manner of wildlife

Ecologists Paul Jepson and Cain Blythe’s book Rewilding, published by Icon on 23 July, reveals just how much herbivores benefit wildlife – in areas both large and small.

“When you’re talking about ‘backyard rewilding’, the best you can do is have a pet pig – but that’s a bit outrageous,” said Dr Jepson, a former Oxford University course director in conservation management, who now works at the Ecosulis ecological consultancy in London. “But actually, if you think of the role of a pig, burrowing or whatever, well, we do that already in our gardens.”

“You would probably notice more butterflies, moths, bees and beetles and you’d find maybe more frogs and amphibians coming in,” he said. “The science would say that you’d also find a sense of wellness. You’d have a little story that you are shaping together with the nature – and you’d find yourself taking breaks just to see what’s happening.”

Guide to rewilding your backyard

“Backyard rewilding can often be stepped up a level if we team up with our neighbours,” says Dr Paul Jepson.

“Replacing a fence panel or section of hedge with a trellis fence panel is one of the simplest ways to restore flight paths for bees and butterflies and foraging routes for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and enabling life-affirming sunlight to reach new areas of your garden.

“The trick is to create patches of ‘messy chaos’, and not to pack plants too tightly. Creating the conditions for flows of air and movement of animals, and establishing different micro-climates – areas of warm, cool, damp and dry – is key.

“Your status as a skilled backyard rewilder will be confirmed when you find yourself wandering down the garden to check out what’s new, enjoy the sensory aesthetics of humming bees, colourful butterflies and sweet-smelling flowers, and stop to chat with your neighbour about the wild goings-on and upcoming spectacles, such as the July flight of garden tiger moths.”

Behaving like a pig works wonders for biodiversity in your garden


photo: pig outside | Pig rooting around in China. Anyone can use th… | Flickr