Imagine. Imagine vast natural forests casting dappled lights across mossy nutrient rich ground, glades full to the brim with wild long-forgotten flowers filling the air with their rich aroma, and vast open spaces full of lush green grasses rippling in the wind like the sea on a stormy winter’s day.
A natural mosaic of mottled purple and yellow stretches over wide-open spaces, all untouched by mankind. Animals once roamed that land and they may once again if time allows it.
No matter how pleasant we may think Britain is today with its gently sloping hills and patched blanket work of farmers’ fields it is merely a reminder of what is once was.
Now that that first scene has all but disappeared, Britain is one of the few countries that doesn’t have top predators and as we all know, top predators help other species flourish.
Some conservationists believe that some parts of the UK should be left to live in a totally wild state. I mean no human interaction, no paths, no coffee shops. No nothing.
This ‘rewilding’, as they like to call, would allow fauna and flora that have been lost in time to come back to roam and grow freely without any human interaction.
In these new wild places, people would be able to reconnect with these creatures like nothing before. Zoos wouldn’t be needed, and the animals could live a captivity-free life.
The key to rewilding is to create wide open spaces where all types of fauna and flora are left to their own devices. They would be left as if they woke up one morning and all humans have disappeared.
The spaces would have to be large enough to provide ample space for top predators including bears, wolves and lynx. These top predators are extremely crucial to the ecosystem’s survival.
Normally, these predators are grass eaters like deer who (with no predators) would otherwise damage and destroy trees and other plant life. Subsequently, this removes food for other animals that depend on it for their own survival.
Once again, it disrupts the food chain and other species perish due to an over population of deer running rampage and overeating.
By adding meat eating predators like wolves to control the grass-eaters would create a more balanced ecosystem and allow for species that have been held back to flourish.
These ripple effects are named ‘trophic cascades’. Even Chris Packham supports the reintroduction of wolves and lynx back into the UK even though others find it controversial.
In the Lake District, Ennerdale Valley has been evolving very naturally thanks to less human intervention and more reliance of natural processes.
Since the formation of ‘Wild Ennerdale’ in 2003 the conifer forest has seen significant changes including increased diversity.
The number of sheep across the valley has reduced, and areas of intensive grazing has been given to Galloway cattle in the forest which has been very beneficial.
Together, these changes along with the removal of all boundary fences has helped to blur its land back together.
There was also a successful reintroduction of the March Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) into the valley which had gone extinct. The removal of bridges has given the river more freedom to move and meander naturally.
Overall, Ennerdale has benefited great amounts from rewilding and I don’t see any reason why other parts of the UK should not reap the benefits as well.
By Daisy S