From Devastation Comes Hope
A Wild Future
The Damage Done
As the UK population has continued to grow, housing has continued to be a priority alongside food production and access via roads, rail tracks and canals – the plentiful ecosystems that once called this country their home have become damaged, causing the remaining nature to struggle. Currently, 56% of UK species are continuing to decline, and a further 15% are actually near extinction!
Would it concern you to know that across the UK we have suffered more deforestation and loss of larger mammal species than any other country, except for Ireland, within Europe? The damage this has caused has been drastic, and dramatic, and across a very short amount of time.
Not too Late!
As the space available to nature becomes increasingly less and less, and biodiversity does not have the space it needs to flourish, what can we do to combat the issue and help nature re-assert itself?
Well, for starters, it is an incredibly difficult job to restore and build the natural processes we have inevitably destroyed, however there is the possibility of giving nature a chance to re-assert and build on these processes itself. This is a long process, and the time it has taken us to break our nature, is a fraction of the time nature needs to mend itself. An example of this would be to potentially manage the high number of grazing animals in order to allow wildflower meadows to flourish and for natural woodlands to grow.
Re-assert, Reconnect and Reintroduce
Or, perhaps, reintroducing potential missing key species into crucial gaps of a damaged ecosystem, such as the Large Heath Butterfly (Manchester argus) for example – once plentiful across the mosslands of Greater Manchester, we hope to return it to its former home and allow it to establish itself as an abundant species across the Chat Moss landscape. Allowing for a more resilient landscape, joining up habitats wherever possible will aid to a better a better quality of ecosystems.
Bigger, better and more joined up. Bigger nature areas, better quality wetlands to manage, creating good buffer zones around site to give more resilience to climate change, human intervention etc, and to allow for wildlife to move from one are to another and create a coherent network. There are several key species we think of when we talk about landscape rewilding in this part of the world. Water voles for instance – hugely important for corridors, as well as Willow Tit, Brown Hare, Great Crested Newt and Bitterns.
For nature to recover in Britain, we need to act now, and we need to act fast. We need nature. We are part of a global ecosystem and no matter what we do next, we will play a crucial role in the story of wildlife, UK and worldwide. One way of helping nature on this journey to redemption is rewilding.
What is Rewilding?
The concept of rewilding is a series of processes we carry out to allow large scale restoration and community work to help ecosystems re-assert themselves and allow nature to take care of itself. Where we can, we aim to reinstate natural processes, allow for the development and delivery of reintroduction programmes for missing species to bring balance to an out-of-sync ecosystem and shape the habitat from within.
Rewilding isn’t solely about the nature, however. It is incredibly important to find a balance between local communities so that both people and nature can thrive. Although the natural processes drive the outcomes, people and livelihoods are key. It looks to provide long term benefits for future generations to come – human and wildlife alike.
The concept of rewilding brings together local communities across the landscape, bettering their knowledge and understanding of their greenspaces and the wildlife that calls them their home, as well as restoring the natural balance of numerous ecosystems. It is the starting of a better future for rural communities and wildlife alike.
Rewilding offers the opportunity for us to reverse hundreds of years’ worth of damage. It isn’t a simple process however, and it takes a collaborative mind-set to be successful, along with new and creative thinking on a large scale. The reality is, rewilding can help nature recover and help to establish better functioning ecosystems which, can then empower rural communities and diversify economies, help prevent flooding, help to store carbon, provide more clean air, water, food and fuel, provide health benefits, bring back species once lost and an opportunity for us to leave a positive mark – a legacy.
Ongoing Success Stories
The Wigan Flashes
The Flashes of Wigan - a prime example of where nature has reclaimed what industry had laid bare. It was here that former coal mines were abandoned after they became too expensive to keep tunnelling for coal extraction. There were over sixty coal mines in Wigan and Leigh. The height of Wigan’s coal mining industry was in the 1920s but the coal began to get harder and harder to find. The coal mines were abandoned and water rushed in. Virtually overnight the flashes formed lakes. The loss of the coal mines left a landscape of devastation with giant slag heaps and workless families suffering financially. But from this devastation, there came hope.
The region led the world in restoring wildlife habitats of post-industrial landscapes and now, they are beautiful wildlife reserves, with wetland and woodland habitats filled with an abundance of life in a variety of forms.
Success - Risley Moss
The Future is Bright!
Slowly but surely the wildlife has come back. New plants, new flowers, new insects, new mammals and new birds re-establishing themselves. Through the work of the partners in the Carbon Landscape and Great Manchester Wetlands, we are leading the way so that everyone can enjoy these beautiful greenspaces and reconnect with their heritage.