The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. At least 41% of animal species are in decline, with one-in-ten being threatened with extinction. We have already lost 133 species since the 1500s, and that doesn’t include plants and other living things. Heal is helping to reverse biodiversity decline by claiming back land for nature. There are so many benefits to having nature around us, and we want these to be felt all across the UK.
Many people favour tree planting to tackle climate change, but this can emit more carbon than it will store for some time, because of the planting process, the waste incurred, and the likelihood of the trees thriving for long enough to take up their full quota of carbon.
Heal is letting nature do its own job, at its own pace, in a way that will last. We let nature take its course with a helping hand from us, so that vegetation will thrive as well as absorb atmospheric carbon, in a more natural way.
Health & Wellbeing
Wellbeing is another important part of Heal's work. We want people to live happy, healthy lives alongside nature. The mutual benefits are numerous, and include:
People living close to nature are 24% more likely to get enough exercise, and cardiovascular health issues are greatly reduced in greener areas
Doubling tree cover can reduce air particulate matter from vehicle pollution by 25%
Contact with nature can improve mood, self-esteem, reduce stress and help us relax (according to mental health charity Mind).
We are a small, new team which gives us opportunities to embed good practice in what we do from the start. We can work for everyone while we work for a better planet.
Rewilding is a new way of managing land for nature recovery and carbon capture. It’s about letting nature take charge of what happens in an area and for natural processes to be restored. It’s a different approach from traditional conservation - one key difference is that on most rewilding sites, trees are allowed to regenerate naturally, providing the conditions are right for trees to take root and grow. Tree planting is often the “go-to” solution to address climate change, but it may not be as beneficial as people say. There can be a lot of carbon emitted in the planting stage and from the equipment involved during ongoing maintenance. Trees also have to live well past maturity to take up the amount of carbon that's often quoted in action plans.
Heal was inspired the work of the Knepp Estate (www.knepp.co.uk), which has been rewilding for nearly 20 years and has seen dramatic improvements in biodiversity (range of species) and bioabundance (number of each species).
Biodiversity and climate are issues that affect all of us, regardless of our backgrounds. When setting up an initiative to tackle environmental problems, it's important to recognise this. Make sure your ideas, plans and processes include everyone. There are lots of best practice examples to look at to help get started.