Rewilding is often a point of contention in the conservation sector, and there seems to be a spectrum of opinions as to what rewilding is and what it looks like in practice in the UK. Patrick Barkham talks to those involved with conservation NGOs to investigate the extent to which conventional conservation is embracing rewilding, and how this is being achieved.
Conservation has failed in Britain. Trotting out figures for the losses of ancient woodland and hay meadows and species declines that show little sign of reversing is a familiar part of a critical narrative that has blossomed with the popularity of rewilding. In return, some mainstream conservationists accuse rewilders of being ecologically naïve or careless ‘introductionists’, or of failing to appreciate how much worse biodiversity losses would be if it were not for science-led conservation management over the last six decades.