The term ‘rewilding’ first emerged in North America, where its central tenets involve leaving vast areas of land to nature and allowing the development of fully functioning ecosystems driven by natural processes, such as keystone interactions between large carnivores and their prey species. In Britain, the concept has by necessity been diluted to suit our more densely-populated landscapes, but it could nevertheless offer a path towards recovery of natural ecosystems over large areas without the need for quick-fix interventions, such as fencing. In this, the first article in our Wilding for Conservation series, Steve Carver and Ian Convery walk through the history and evolving definitions of rewilding and make the case for its role in a more ambitious future for conservation in Britain.
As we were writing this article, in November 2020, the British government very help-fully provided us with some additional points of discussion by announcing ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’. Alongside aspirations for technological innovation in offshore wind, hydrogen power and nuclear energy, ‘Protecting Our Natural Environment’ is listed as point nine.