The Sunday Telegraph reports in late August, unbeknown to most of the capital’s population of eight million, a single white-tailed eagle flew over central London. This magnificent bird of prey was one of six released a week earlier on the Isle of Wight and had taken it upon himself to explore his new manor.
That eagle over London was symbolic of a much wider process taking place all over the country. Whether you use the word Rewilding with a capital R, a small r or indeed no r at all, however you choose to define it – big birds of prey, tiny dormice, or a healthy, flowing river – the desire to ecologically restore our landscape is a response to the critical condition of our natural world. Despite the work of organisations like The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and National Trust, as well as smaller foundations and private estates such as Knepp in West Sussex and Trees for Life in the Scottish Highlands, our wildlife is in trouble. Nature conservation organisations that traditionally focused on protecting specific sites and national parks have reached the consensus that such work is no longer enough.
The Scotsman reports a “rush to rewild” the UK’s landscapes could put the rich array of wildflowers found in already-rare meadows at risk, plant experts have warned. While rewilding, which aims to return land to a more “natural” state, can provide opportunities for the UK’s wild plants, many will still need grazing or other kinds of disturbance such as ploughing or cultivating to thrive.
Wildflower meadows are some of the UK’s most species-rich habitats, but are found on less than 1 per cent of the country’s land area, wildlife charity Plantlife said ahead of National Meadows Day on Saturday. More than 97 per cent of meadows have been lost since the 1930s and the remaining fragments have poor legal protection, the charity warned.
The Independent reports MPs will have to debate returning vast swathes of land to wildernesses after a petition calling for mass rewilding gained more than 100,000 signatures.
It calls for the government to “make a bold financial and political commitment to nature’s recovery” to help slow climate breakdown.
Expanding habitats for native plants, trees and animals such as beavers and allowing wildlife to return will help remove from the atmosphere the carbon dioxide that is largely driving up global temperatures, organisers Rewilding Britain, said.
Photo by Pat Gaines under Creative Commons .