Exclusive: A new group, WildCard, wants to rewild 50% of the UK.
I am a fan of (re)wilding, but my sense is that this is a very poorly thought through campaign in terms of both goals and presentation. While I completely agree that certain current land management is unsustainable, the callousness towards people's jobs shows little respect for a just transition, and sounds like it comes from a place of immense privilege - i.e. we're going to pressure our elite university to treat rural people worse. If we are to effectively address the nature and climate emergencies, we need to bring a wide section of the public with us. Farmers and rural workers come in all shapes and shades of opinion, and many can be allies, but not if you dismiss their whole industry and livelihood. The quote suggesting that a bit more scandanavian foraging could in any meaningful way contribute to food and energy supply shows zero understanding of those sectors, let alone the reality of the lives of most people in the UK. The interest and energy around (re)wilding is great, and we need bold campaigns, but I hope that WildCard will do some more thinking and talking to a variety of people not just themselves, to set some smarter goals, before they storm off in such a badly thought out direction.
This is an ambitious and far reaching approach and I have been inspired and curious about how Rewilding in the UK could be embraced by the public. However these are radical and scary ideas for many traditional institutions and landowners and have gathered bad press as well as good. I feel this needs to be brought forward in a supportive, collaborative and ingenious way to engage the community. These changes can bring about new and different jobs, food production and green rural tourism, with healthy and regenerative diversity. Check some of the examples of this in Ben Macdonald’s book, Rebirding - Rewilding Britain and its Birds. I support Wildcard’s challenging project in stepping forward lightly and respectfully towards great success.
Probably the strongest strand of this concept is the targeting of our most long-lived institutions. The problem with much of land management is the short termism of much of the thinking. To produce quality broadleaf woodland such as we have lost can take 500+ years and only institutions like the Duchy of Cornwall and the Universities and Churches have been around anything like that long. However even some of them are running out of steam now!
I think this project sounds fantastic and I can't wait to hear more about how it progresses
Rather than rewilding, I know of an Oxford college involved in controversial housing development plans on greenfield sites close to nature reserves. The main ethos seems to be to exploit their land holding for the maximum financial gain regardless of the effect on local people or nature.
At first reading it's an excellent idea. Can you confirm that all founders are leading by example? Little point in pressuring others when you are not already doing it.