Nature in the United Kingdom is in decline. Populations of priority species have decreased by more than 60% since the 1970s, and there is no evidence of a reversal in this trend. UK landscapes are under more pressure than ever to deliver housing, infrastructure and food. Several species, including once common animals such as the European hedgehog, are in danger of disappearing forever. We need to ensure that policy and conservation methods protect the best of the biodiversity that we have left within the UK.
A Burkina Faso farmer shows off her onion harvest
The UK government recently stated its ambition to "leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it", and to "not just protect and conserve, but enhance and restore habitats and landscapes". Adopting the slogan "Protect the best, recover the rest", unifies these ambitions. We not only need to protect the best regulations, policies and natural areas developed to date, but also forge ahead and engage new audiences in new conservation narratives suited to an era of accelerating change.
Today, the largest terrestrial carnivore in the United Kingdom is a badger. Aside from the fact that I love badgers, wouldn't it be great to have a little more diversity in our landscapes?
Scotland is one of the wildest places in the UK, with mountains, lochs and woodland extending out for miles. It is where the first beaver reintroduction trial sites were established in the UK; where pine martens roam and osprey soar through the skies. Experiencing these areas allows you to believe that Lynx, elk and wolves could be reintroduced to these areas more successfully than in southern England, for example.
After the wettest winter on record and widespread flooding across the UK, Alastair Driver (the National Biodiversity Manager of the Environment Agency) took to twitter to highlight the efforts into Natural Flood Management research across the UK. Some of the facts tweeted include -
Cain Blythe and Daniel Allen cover two revealing articles for Geographical magazine as part of Rewilding Week:
Bear Necessities: http://geographical.co.uk/nature/wildlife/item/1389-bear-necessities
Fewer than 50 Marsican brown bears roam the Apennine Mountains of central Italy. Daniel Allen and Cain Blythe investigate whether new protection measures can bring Italy’s largest carnivore back from the edge.
A recent article was posted by Claire Marshall, a BBC Environment Correspondent, in which she explains that new hunting laws relating to wolves in France are causing a stir. The problem is that local sheep farmers claim to be losing stock through predation and this has resulted in the French Government increasing the number of wolves that can be killed in 2015 from 25 to 36. A wolf hunting team is now supplied by the state in defiance of EU law.
Beavers often get bad press for being the cause of flooding, and this is one of the key factors affecting the decision of whether to reintroduce beavers to Britain’s waterways. Heavy rain has caused flooding in Alyth Burn in Scotland, and many theories have linked this flooding to the presence of beavers in the area.
A “one in 200 year flood” occurred this summer and this caused extensive flash flooding within the village of Alyth, leaving homes without power.
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.