Digging and scrubbing around helps to create landscapes that attract all manner of wildlife.
The ideas and practice of ‘rewilding’ are gaining ground:
And in these parts too:
The showcase project is the Knepp estate in West Sussex:
The inspiration for this is an even larger project – in the unlikeliest of places:
Which in turn looks to an even larger project:
But these things are also possible in Britain.
Charlie Burrell of Knepp is also chair of Rewilding Britain:
With the latest reintroduction happening in Kent:
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.
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
“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.”