By in Science

Should the countryside be ‘rewilded’?

Recently I’ve read a couple of articles proposing that Britain, or at least parts of it, should be ‘rewilded’ – in other words returned to the state it was allegedly in before humans colonized it. That would be several thousand years ago and if we were to strictly follow that line of reasoning then as well as removing all humans and signs of human activity we would also have to remove all introduced species including rabbits, hares, pheasants, grey squirrels, edible dormice, trees such as sycamore and horse chestnut and even apple, wild flowers such as snakes-head fritillaries etc etc (many of these are now regarded as natives but were originally introduced by humans) and reintroduce wolves, wildcats and beavers.

Normally I’m very conservation-minded but I just can’t get to grips with this proposal. For one thing it seems to directly contradict the ethos of most conservation bodies. For many species the traditional country landscape consisting of fields and hedges, woods and glades, rivers and gardens, walls and buildings is what provides the diversity of habitats that allowed so many species to thrive. Many of our native species have declined in recent decades due to the change in farming practices, because they developed to take advantage of traditional farming methods. But if all farming was stopped and the country returned to blanket tree cover of fewer species then those farmland species would have no place either! As a result many species which need habitats such as woodland glades or field margins would die out and the result would be an extensive loss of biodiversity. And in any case, in case anyone has forgotten this, humans are not separate from nature; we, like all other species, are a part of it. What do you think?

All rights reserved. © Text and image copyright Fleur 2015.

Image Credit » copyright 2015 fleur

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maxeen wrote on April 15, 2015, 7:32 PM

I think it's a very dodgy idea,just working to get rid of us next-surplus to requirements.

wolfgirl569 wrote on April 15, 2015, 10:59 PM

It can be argued both ways I guess.

jiangliu1949 wrote on April 16, 2015, 4:10 AM

I don't think it works .They want to return to primitive state by damaging the present ecological balance.

Kasman wrote on April 16, 2015, 5:14 PM

We can't turn back the clock too far but we could reintroduce some of those lost animals which were rendered extinct by man. Beavers are back living in Scotland as is the white-tailed sea eagle and there are plans to reintroduce the wolf and even the lynx. They would keep the red deer population down - it's about twice what it should be for the land to support. Doing this would be easier in Scotland than in England but, although there is some enthusiasm for these moves, there is huge opposition mainly from the farming community who sense a threat to their livestock. We could also reintroduce plant species which have disappeared but I don't think there is much we can do about those species of plants and animals which are not native to Britain but have gained a strong presence here.

trufflehunter wrote on April 22, 2015, 7:45 AM

HUman efforts to re-do or undo stuff usually lead to more trouble. There is a so-called 'Clean technology' park where I am which ironically involved sacrificing many trees to build.