Rewilding Soar Valley

Soar Valley Living Landscape is a great example of the benefits derived from rewilding the land, led by Leicester & Rutland Wildlife Trust with the support of local landowners.

Rewilding Soar Valley's story

Rewilding is an approach to conservation that restores natural processes, enabling them to shape the land and our coastlines, repairing human-caused damage to ecosystems and reviving biodiversity in nature-depleted landscapes. A great example is the ongoing rewilding of the Soar Valley, under the stewardship of the Leicester & Rutland Wildlife Trust.

The Leicester & Rutland Wildlife Trust (LWRT) has been doing extensive work in recent years to restore wildlife and wild places to the floodplains of the Soar and Wreake – two of the most significant rivers in Leicestershire. The River Soar flows northwards through a shallow valley in Leicestershire, growing in size and joining with the River Trent on the Nottinghamshire border. Since 2004, the LRWT have acquired over 400 acres of land on the Soar floodplain and carried out extensive habitat restoration work, centred on Cossington Meadows Nature Reserve. The site is managed lightly to create a mosaic of rough grassland, wet woodland, scrub and pools of water – with the emphasis on allowing natural processes to shape the landscape as much as possible.

Helping the land to recover is not necessarily easy for those who live off the land, particularly on marginal land. Changing land use practices means that farmers, foresters, landowners and land managers need support to explore new approaches. The LWRT have been offering advice and support to landowners, that will help them stay on their land into the future as well as helping nature.

Soar & Wreake Valley living landscape (Photo: Leicester & Rutland Wildlife Trust)

Useful learnings from Rewilding Soar Valley

There are many benefits to using land for rewilding, from drawing down carbon from the atmosphere to helping wildlife adapt to climate change; from reversing biodiversity loss to supporting diversified economic opportunities and improving our health and wellbeing.

Rewilding the land is about bringing nature back as much as we can, wherever we can. A vision at this scale requires a coordinated effort between landowners, communities, farmers, fishers, foresters, public bodies, NGOs, businesses and relevant experts.

Restoring nature through land use changes can happen at every scale – from working, productive land uses to large-scale rewilding.

Rewilding should benefit local people and communities directly. It should always be about choice, as we seek a balance between people and the rest of nature where each can thrive.

It is vital to embed and connect up core rewilding areas within a broader mosaic of land uses – and to consider how areas will support low-impact mixed forestry, nature-based tourism and high-nature value grazing.

Rewilding Soar Valley's metrics

• Increase in local biodiversity
• Improved soil health
• Extent of vegetation growth
• Better local water quality
• Recreation opportunities and public access
• Support for local enterprises and businesses
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