Cherry Taylor began by explaining what rewilding is not. It is not about tree planting or wildlife gardening or organic farming. The most notable example of rewilding is the Knepp Estate. It is a farm of 3,500 acres which had been farmed intensively for 17 years, but in 2000 it had not made profit for two years and the soil was dead.
So, in 2001 conventional farming was stopped and rewilding began. The land was gradually adapted over time to restore the natural processes. It has led to a big increase in biodiversity with butterflies, 34 species of bat, stoats, weasels, water shrews and five owl species now on site. The wetlands have been restored and beavers and white storks have been reintroduced.
David Attenborough in his book A Life on Our Planet suggests rewilding is the future to restore habitat and biodiversity. However, the future in the face of climate change looks bleak.
• By 2040 the tundra will melt causing a huge release in carbon dioxide and leading to mass migration.
• By 2050 there will be acidification of the oceans, fish populations will be decimated and coral reefs destroyed.
• By 2080 the production of food from the land will be in crisis and widespread famine can be expected.
Nature is crucial in stabilising the environment because it can lock away carbon and reduce flooding, and biodiversity helps to control pests that destroy crops.
Rewilding is not land abandonment; it promotes a mixture of habitats by using animals as the disturbers like cattle, deer, horses and pigs. The animals are hardy and require minimal human interference. They help to control the brambles which would otherwise takeover, and they create areas of bare soil which encourage wild plants. Water is left to find its own way; fallen trees are left to decay, making them popular with birds for their source of insects.
The ideal environment is a mosaic of habitats that allow the natural processes to return and to move away from species specific protection. Knepp Farm demonstrates how rewilding can take marginal land with dead soil and use nature to restore the biodiversity.
Some group activities and meetings are held at Ty Price, St Thomas Community Hall, St Thomas’s Square. There is no off street parking here. The approach on foot is a gentle slope to double entrance doors. The ground floor of the building is fully accessible and there is a disabled toilet. The stairs to the first floor are wide and well-lit with a handrail on both sides, but there is no lift. There is a hearing induction system on the ground floor.