What is rewilding?

You might have heard of the word rewilding in the news surrounding conservation but what actually is it?!

Rewilding is a type of conservation work that is currently defined as leaving a defined area alone for natural processes to occur. The theory behind the movement is that by leaving an area entirely alone the natural order of things will return, with the change being long term.

One example of this has been on alpine grasslands such as in the Snowdonia National Park. Once upon a time this area would have various areas of grasslands with shrubs and at lower altitudes there would have been broad leaf forest. However, due to extreme overgrazing of these areas it is now reduced to only a few species of grasses. Rewilding movements in the area, have fenced off areas of land from sheep to allow for regrowth of shrubs. They are also working with farmers to encourage sheep to stay away from certain areas. So far these projects have moved slowly but are working to encourage biodiversity.

Another project from Rewilding Britain worked on The River Wandle in South London –

In 1805, the river Wandle, which flows through south London, was described as “the hardest worked river for its size in the world.” It was an urban sewer, poisoned by bleach and dyes from the 90 mills along its length. It was later straightened and canalised to speed water away from homes and businesses.

But in this urban rewilding project, the Wandle Trust is restoring the river to its former glory as a beautiful chalk stream. Almost all the world’s chalk streams are found in England. They are rare and threatened habitats.

The Trust has been putting back features that harboured life in the river, which had been pulled out by overzealous engineers. It runs community cleanups every month, enlisting local people to remove the junk dumped in the water. It has been creating passages through the weirs to enable eels to migrate upstream. Children in local schools have been raising trout to restock the river.

The children’s involvement has encouraged them to see the Wandle as part of their landscape and to start playing in it once more. The project is rewilding children as well as the natural world. And it provides a valuable wildlife corridor right into the heart of the city.

There have even been bigger projects suggested like reintroducing species to these rewilding areas, this has included larger mammals and even wolves. Rewilding is viewed by some as a necessity for the future of conservation and encouraging biodiversity as it is low cost and works very well. However, others see rewilding as a waste of potential land use and that it alienates land owners.

Conservation can often be a divisive issue and rewilding is no different. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!

Here are a few more links to other articles on rewilding if you are interested:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/01/rewilding-conservation-ecology-national-trust

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/rewilding

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The Monthly Species: May

It’s the end of May already! This months species has been in the news for reintroduction in Denmark. This is of course the grey wolf.

Canis lupis

VHawAWe

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus

Size:

Grey wolves can measure up to 160cm in length and 85cm from shoulder height, however these sizes vary globally.

Diet:

As wolves are known globally diets do vary dependent on which continent they are found. That being said wolves generally feed on herbivorous mammals for example deer, goats and even bison. Wolves have been known to supplement this diet with berries and vegetable matter. This can include things like blueberries and melons but again varies on the location.

Life Expectancy:

Generally 7-8 years in the wild but wolves have been known to live up to 12 years or longer in remote locations and in protected areas.


Reproduction:

Breeding season occurs once a year late January through March. Pups are born blind and defenseless and there can be between 4 and 7 pups per litter. The pack cares for the pups until they fully mature at about 10 months of age when they can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 50 to 500 miles.

Conservation: 

Wolf populations worldwide decreased in the 19th century mainly through hunting. The populations are threatened from habitat loss and continued conflict with humans. On the other side populations have began to increase through an increase in protected areas and wolf populations have began to grow in places which were recently extinct from wolves.

The Coolest Thing Ever About This Species:

Wolves have unique howls, like fingerprints, that scientists (and other pack members) can use to tell them apart.

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