Not so long ago Britain was an abundant forest land full of animals such as beavers, wild-boars, wolves, bears... even elephants! But with human progression came hunting, deforestation and a complete desolation of a beautifully established ecosystem. Now heading out into the wildlife of Britain you may expect to see a rabbit (introduced by the Romans 2,000 years ago), a grey squirrel (released into the UK in 1876), or perhaps, if you're lucky, a fallow deer (brought over by the Normans). We Britains spend a lot of time telling other countries not to destroy their forests, not to shoot predators that hunt their livestock.... to protect their environment at all costs. But how do we have a leg to stand on?
We can't change the past, we can't go back and stop what our ancestors did... But we could restore it.
Recently George Monbiot wrote an article for the Guardian entitled "My Manifesto for rewilding the world' which you can read here:
But if you would rather here is a shortened, slightly more entertaining animated summary:
George proposes that we reintroduce lost plant and animal species across Europe, and then step back and let them manage themselves.
But of course there are a huge number of issues involved, including cost, lost livelihood and an increased risk of being mauled by a wild animal! But what a world it would be we lived in! Imagine looking out of your window and seeing a truly wild world beyond...
Okay, so what George Monbiot suggests is sadly pretty far from reality... But there are major debates going on about the reintroduction of some of the more recently lost species. In fact, in some cases it has been going ahead. For example Red Kites reintroduction began in 1989 in North Scotland and Buckinghamshire; they are now beginning to spread across the rest of the country and can be deemed successfully re-established. Between May 2009 and September 2010 four beaver families were released into Scotland, and despite a struggle in Spring 2011 the first beaver babies were born in the UK for 400 years!
The next animal likely to be reintroduced is the Eurasian lynx which was last seen in the UK 2000 years ago. They hunt mainly deer and small mammals such as hares and rabbits; they would do a great deal of good for the management of these species. But of course the idea is met with a lot of argument - farmers fear the threat to their livestock, people fear a threat to their safety. Without this happening I fear a threat to our wild world.
A step up from this is an argument for the reintroduction of wolves and bears. However if this is ever to happen it would not be for many years - perhaps even beyond our lifetime.
Our arguments against the reintroduction of these species is biased - we fear predators hunting livestock, the money it would cost, and loosing land for farming; yet we tell other countries to risk their livestock, to spend money protecting their species and to restrict expansion for their wildlife.
I think that reintroduction would do no end of good for our country - it would restore a bland land to beauty and sustenance, it could revamp the tourist industry, it would counteract a lot of carbon emissions (if we expanded our forests)... but most of all it would REWILD us.
I would love to hear YOUR thoughts and opinions on the matter. How would you feel having wolves living on your doorstep? Would you like to live in a rewild country?