Rewild land

Tarras Valley Nature Reserve (Langholm)
Nature is our life support system: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the energy that sustains us. All plant and animal species play a role and as they disappear – more than half of all species in the UK are in decline and 15% is threatened with extinction – our life support system starts to fail.

Rewilding provides an opportunity to step back from this brink and let nature take care of itself for a healthier, more resilient natural world.
The benefits from a rewilded landscape can be felt by us as well as by nature: richer landscapes can provide economic benefits for rural communities through things like wildlife-based tourism; greater woodland coverage stabilise soils and prevent flooding; thriving ecosystems help us fight climate change; connecting with nature is good for our mental health and wellbeing; and not least, it’s good for the animals that are reintroduced around the UK.

Britain has all the space it needs for an epic return of its wildlife. Only six percent of our island is built upon and large areas of our countryside are not productively farmed. We have all the land we need, without affecting essential food production, if we reform the way we use our uplands – allowing blanket forestry plantations and sheep-grazed landscapes to rewild – and reform shooting and hunting estates for the benefits of wildlife.

One of the most ambitious community projects of a generation has been the purchase of over 10,000 acres of land by the local community in Langholm in the south of Scotland. They completed their second round of fundraising in August 2022, doubling the size of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve they created. Now this land is in community ownership, the team is working on projects to restore and rewild the landscape on a huge scale.

In another approach, the Penpont Project blends rewilding with sustainable food production, in a collaborative effort between farmers, NGOs, land managers and local communities. Most inspiring of all, it’s youth-led and the largest project of its kind in the world, taking place on a 2000-acre upland estate in Wales.

In addition to setting aside these big blocks of land and reintroducing keystone species, there are also benefits to rewilding lots of little areas too. This is where small-scale rewilding plays a vital role, making space for nature by creating patchworks of different habitats and wildlife corridors.

Heal Rewilding is doing exactly this, one square at a time.

Councils, among the largest landowners in the country, are also rewilding public land in growing numbers with one in five county councils setting aside former golf courses, post-industrial scrubland and recovering waterways for nature.

Are you wild about reclaiming land for nature, with all its potential benefits? There are many inventive ways for you to do so, depending on your ambition and those around you.
Tarras Valley Nature Reserve Tarras Valley Nature Reserve
Start something new…

The charity Rewilding Britain encourages rewilding projects around the UK and disseminates knowledge and advice about how to successfully set up and manage such a scheme. If you’d like to do this on your land, read the 12 steps to rewilding and join Rewilding Britain’s network of local community groups, landowners, land managers and marine projects to help you get started. If you don’t own land and want to spearhead rewilding in your area, try talking to your local council first to see if they have any sites which they’d be interested in rewilding.

Interested in nature-based solutions? Check out more initiatives about land use, food & agriculture and biodiversity & nature.

… or join an existing community project:

Find a rewilding project near you and ask them if they need any volunteer help.

The Wildlife Trusts are charities working with local people to protect and bring back wildlife, make their local areas wilder and make nature part of life for everyone. They care for wildlife places and nature reserves of all shapes and sizes. However, most of them are also working in partnerships with other organisations to bring back wildlife to large areas of their local countryside. They’re basically rewilding on a landscape scale. There are always opportunities for people to get involved as volunteers. Talk to your local wildlife trust to find out what they’re doing and how you can get involved.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert in wildlife or science: a whole range of skills is needed to guarantee the success of projects like these and it’ll also be possible to learn as you go.

Other related community actions: Plant green infrastructure, Plant trees, Restore peatlands, Restore seagrass

What do we mean by community action?
23 community actions