Is Britain Becoming a Wilder Place?

Posted by Sara King BSc (Hons) MCIEEM on 28/07/2015

This month saw the launch of Rewilding Britain, which is a charity set up to encourage rewilding projects across the UK. This includes enhancing biodiversity and natural habitats across the country, as well as improving our health and wellbeing through the enjoyment of natural areas. Rewilding is also frequently associated with the reintroduction of key species back to the UK, including beavers (which are already in parts of Scotland and Devon), pine martens, lynx and eventually wolves. These movements usually cause controversy, but these keystone species are vital to the health of ecosystems and can have large benefits to biodiversity.  The aim of Rewilding Britain is to cease the decline of wildlife, and for ‘the mass restoration of ecosystems in Britain, on land and at sea’.

This week has also seen reports that pine martens have been recorded within a woodland in Shropshire for the first time in over a century. Small populations of pine martens are present in Scotland and Wales, however were thought to be extinct from the wild in England.  Pine martens are a keystone species, which means that they have a huge impact on the health of ecosystems and contribute to trophic cascades. However, humans led to their extinction in England through habitat destruction and predator control. Pine martens have also been linked to controlling the grey squirrel population in Ireland, and could be linked to the eventual reintroduction of red squirrels in England.

Does this mean that Britain is becoming a wilder place? Well, with beaver and pine martens making headway in the UK surely with the right encouragement we will soon be seeing lynx and possibly wolves here as well? We sincerely hope so!