New UK Wildlife Charity Plans to Buy land To Rewild

Giving depleted farmland back to nature allows species to thrive.

Apr 26, 2020

(allouphoto / Shutterstock.com)

Across Britain there are old farms, orchards or just rural land that are no longer being used. A new wildlife charity wants to buy these old farms, green belts, and lower grade lands and rewild them by giving the land back to nature.

Heal Rewilding, the new nonprofit was just launched on March 30, 2020, is looking for land that has low biodiversity to reinstate natural processes and native ecosystems.

All of the lands that will be rewilded are going to be close to large towns and cities so that people can have access to the sites and benefit from hiking and getting out in nature. There are numerous studies that show that there are health benefits to being out in nature.  Some doctors in the NHS are even prescribing nature walks and birdwatching for medical conditions.

The organization points out that rewilding is more involved than just letting nature take over without any help and it does not go as far as trying to return the land to a previous state, noting that it is not possible to recreate the past. This translates into adding seed plants and later animals (like the Kemp Estate in West Suffex) when the food supply can support them.

That’s because the organization said, “Grazing, browsing and rootling animals construct a mosaic of habitats by 'working' the land in different ways. The action of cattle, ponies and deer (herbivores) and pigs (omnivores) naturally controls the growth of dominant species such as tree saplings. Without grazing, habitats are vulnerable to succession, meaning a gradual shift towards total tree cover.”

While this may be an unusual time for people to be thinking about nature, the charity’s chair Jan Stannard told The Guardian that they have been working on this for the past two years and decided to go ahead now rather than delay tackling the UK’s declining wildlife.

“We face a brutal environment, but we are resilient,” Stannard said. “Nature cannot wait. Everywhere I look, I see absence of wildlife. But each one of our sites will help hundreds of species.”

In fact, The National Trust’s ‘’The State of Nature 2019 Report” highlighted a sharp decline in the biodiversity of the UK. Since 1970, there has been a 41 percent drop in numbers of almost 700 species of birds, mammals, and insects.

The initial £7m, 500-acre project will be in the southern English Sussex countryside but the exact location of the site has not yet become public. The organization is also crowdfunding to raise money to purchase land.

Heal put out a call for volunteers when they launched and in two-weeks’ time, they received offers of help from over 100 people. “We urgently need everyone together to help make nature’s recovery happen,” Stannard told The Guardian. “Our sites will be places where wildlife can return and thrive, but they will also become sanctuaries for people. Our vision is to heal the land, heal nature and heal ourselves.”

The organization is also looking for young people to join Heal Future a network for young rewilders. This is a way, they say, to get younger under 30 supporters involved in the planning of healing land for future generations to enjoy.

There is a growing interest in preserving nature in the UK with rewilding and conservation groups working hand-in-hand. Wales is building the largest national forest by connecting strips of ancient woods. The idea is to allow people to walk across the entire length of the country and it will be managed by The Woodland Trust.

If we allow it, nature can heal itself and this will greatly benefit species that are on the brink, help take carbon out of the air, and will give the world a sustainable future.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.