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The Rewilders

The Rewilders

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After studying Landscape Architecture, she’s worked across awhole range of sectors – wildlife management, corporate sustainability, aspell at the Environment Agency and community engagement. ​ “So when this job came up, it just pulled together all the things I’m passionate about – environment, yes, but also community participation – and how to do it differently.” In recent decades, the world population of the species has declined to as few as 12,000. The vulture’s status has recently been downgraded to “endangered” – two steps away from global extinction. In Europe, numbers have fallen by more than half in the past 50 years, with most found in Spain and Portugal. Of course, not everybody agrees that reintroducing lynx and wolves is a feasible idea, and in The Rewilders I’ve tried to show that different points of view are valid and that compromise and consensus will be necessary if large predators are ever going to be successfully reintroduced to Scotland.

The situation takes a terrifying turn when the children pitch their tents on a bleak Highland moor and hear wolves howling outside… Incredibly powerful and poignant storytelling. https://www.edspire.co.uk/year_2022/04/10/the-rewilders/ Rewilders argue that restoring Scotland’s natural fauna and flora will encourage tourism, which will generate jobs that can replace traditional employment in hill-farming and deer-stalking. Bear and lynx could be an attraction: Germany’s national parks have used their lynx populations as a marketing tool, even though the chances of seeing one are negligible. A south-western speciality, its unique combination of purple moor grass and rush pasture sponges up carbon and water alike, helping prevent flooding downstream. Much work has been done by the local Wildlife Trust to quantify the value of these​‘ecosystem services’, and Val is visibly proud of its precious flora and rare species, including the marsh fritillary butterfly.Keeping the numbers down, says Donald Rowantree, who manages Corrour, a 57,000-acre estate owned by Lisbet Rausing, another Scandinavian conservationist billionaire, is a full-time job. Fences, he says, are not the answer: they are expensive to maintain and defy the principle of “natural” restoration. Pressure on deer numbers is growing not just from rewilders but from the Scottish government (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty) Restoring woodland In the past, rewilders earned a poor reputation for excluding people from natural spaces – some projects were designed without the community in mind, or even a thought for the economics. But those projects had such a negative impact on the public perception of rewilding (a term which is still toxic in certain cultures) that modern rewilders have, understandably, put people at the heart of project design and rewilding principles. After all, a project’s success is a matter of public opinion, so it’s crucial to keep the public in mind when you’re designing a project. The ​ ‘repeopling’ is already under way. ​ “This [Bunloit] estate used to have no-one working on it; now there’s around 20.” The goal isn’t just direct employment, either. Kirsty points out ruins of abandoned crofts, evidence that the land was once indeed more ​ ‘peopled’ than now, and which they’d love to restore and see reoccupied.

Get it right, she says, and the environmental benefits will extend way beyond Langholm. The towns downstream on the Solway catchment face ​ “something of aflood risk. So anything we do up here by way of restoring peatlands, planting forests, conserving wetlands, will all help slow the flow ofwater.”They’ve also employed experienced locals as estate rangers. Two of them, Scott Hendry and Daniel Holm, walk me round some of the Bunloit estate. It’s amixture of conifer plantations and native woodland. Some of the plantations have already been felled: ​ “It’s the one thing all the experts agree on”, says Jeremy, ​ “clear the conifers!” – although as Daniel points out, leaving afew in place makes sense to provide winter shelter forbirds. The hope is that by planting native trees and reviving damaged peatlands, Scotland’s biodiversity will increase and natural processes will be revived. Scotland’s temperate rainforests are internationally important and contain the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens, but there are only fragments left and these isolated fragments are unable to regenerate due to high levels of grazing or are being damaged by invasive rhododendron or by the planting of exotic conifers. The Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest has been set up to help restore these precious habitats. And then, perhaps, it might be time to reintroduce large predators…

He remembers sitting in his car after one such meeting, talking to his wife on the phone, seriously considering throwing in the towel. ​ “I came out of that room just feeling totally outnumbered.” In away, he’d become afocus for resentment at any change seen as coming from outsiders – aprejudice confirmed, Lee says, ​ “as soon as Iopened mymouth”. It’s this sort of finger-in-the-air exploration which appeals to Dorette. ​ “Wilding is experimental. That’s what Ilike about it. Ilove the idea of creating aspace, and seeing what it needs. Moving forward without following astrict guideline. Ireally wanted toplay.”A terrific book full of tension and plot twists, interwoven with a very satisfying story of self-discovery. https://getkidsintobooks.com/2022/04/08/the-rewilders-by-lindsay-littleson/ Reintroducing these animals would be an excellent way of keeping deer on the move, helping to prevent overgrazing and the destruction of young trees. And as Callum tells Esme in The Rewilders, Scotland was once home to both lynx and wolves… Brought up in Sunderland, Jenny bubbles with an infectious enthusiasm for everything from ancient alders and flycatchers to new ways of engaging with communities at the grassroots. That’s just as well, as her role is equally wide-ranging, embracing forest management and timber sales, economic regeneration plans, wildlife recovery and – inevitably – fundraising. While Dorette and Eti are fresh arrivals, 77year-old Val Green, whose land abuts Dorette’s, has lived there for nearly 50years. During that time, she’s overseen aquiet transformation which has helped nurture something of anatural revival, too. I just wanted to say thank you for the privilege of doing the Rewilding course with you. The weekend was incredible and I could probably say life changing. I see the three principles everywhere and can see the transformation the understanding is bringing. Sometimes I am feeling joy I haven't felt since I was a child and I find myself laughing, singing and just smiling for no apparent reason.

The debate over which new arrivals are “natural”, and which have been given a helping hand – deliberately or accidentally – is further confused by the climate emergency. Many birds, butterflies and other insects are shifting their ranges northwards because of rapidly warming temperatures. Some stop at the French coast, unwilling or unable to cross over the Channel. Others, such as the southern migrant hawker dragonfly and willow emerald damselfly, have colonised southern England. Meanwhile, a trio of once-exotic waterbirds – little, great white and cattle egrets – are now a common sight around my home on the Somerset Levels. This gripping and tense read explores the debate about the reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx in Scotland. City Kids Magazine The situation takes a terrifying turn when the children pitch their tents on a bleak Highland moor and hear wolves howling outside… (synopsis from book cover) Humans have, generally, reduced ‘stochastic disturbances’ – that is, unpredictable events which can cause ecosystems to be reshaped, like flooding and fire. These events are part of a healthy habitat, alongside natural processes like rivers wiggling over time, ponds silting up and trees dying. On an ideal rewilding project, natural processes are allowed to run more freely – animal carcasses are left to rot down (creating food for scavengers), rivers flood their floodplain (if this poses little danger to humans) and tree limbs rot down where they fall (returning nutrients to their roots). There’s excitement all the way in this fast-paced rewilding mission as Esme and Callum take on some important lessons about friendship as they battle to protect and help Cora. The perfect read for youngsters who love nature and a thrill-a-minute adventure! https://pamnorfolkblog.blogspot.com/ and Lancashire PostI am totally aware that the reintroduction of wolves and lynx is controversial, and that the focus of the rewilding movement in Scotland is currently on restoring our precious peatlands and temperate rain forest, but my hope is that young people read The Rewilders and are inspired to discover more about rewilding. The Scottish Rewilding Alliance’s main goal is ‘a flourishing ecosystem, supporting self-sustaining nature-based economies which secure a future for local communities’ and who wouldn’t support that aim? Before founding The Rewilders, Rohini created and hosted the Soul-Centered Series — a seven-month immersion into the "Principles" understanding with teachers who learned directly from the enlightened theosopher Sydney Banks. After he sold Solarcentury to Europe’s largest renewable energy generator, Statkraft, in 2020, he could well have felt entitled to put his feet up, now in his late sixties… But first, she had to pull the funds together – and all while juggling the rest of her work. ​ “One moment I’d be wrestling with funding bids; the next, I’m talking to aforestry contractor about taking down timber; looking for the best price.” That variety suited her sparky enthusiasm. ​ “It’s nice to be around people every day that want to make adifference. It is genuinely acase of ​ ‘we’re all working to do something really incredible here!’”

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