Two leading proponents of the use of rewilding as a means to enhance conservation and ecosystem restoration are coming to Plymouth University.
Author and broadcaster George Monbiot and Alan Watson Featherstone, founder and director of charity Trees for Life, will be the keynote speakers at an event on Friday 15 January.
Hosted by the Network of Wellbeing and the University’s Sustainable Earth Institute, it will explore the social, ecological and wellbeing benefits of rewilding to habitats across the globe.
Professor Iain Stewart, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute at Plymouth University, said:
“Rewilding has been an emerging conservation phenomenon for around five decades, but its implementation within the UK is largely in its infancy. There are many who believe it has the potential to revitalise our countryside, enrich our lives and help us mitigate the effects of climate change. This event will enable South West audiences to hear from two leading national commentators about those potential impacts and how it might make a striking difference to the future of our countryside.”
Rewilding includes large-scale conservation projects aimed at restoring and protecting core wilderness areas, with previous initiatives involving the protection or reintroduction of apex predators and keystone species. It can also include smaller urban initiatives from wild patches in gardens to green corridors connecting parks and other areas.
Projects may require ecological restoration or wilderness engineering, particularly to restore connectivity between fragmented protected areas, and reintroduce predators. They may also involve us simply stopping intensive management, such as mowing or grazing grass.
George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist and the author of bestselling books The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, as well as a number of investigative travel books. His latest book is Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding, which was also the subject of a BBC radio programme co-hosted by Clare Balding.
Alan Watson Featherstone is the Founder and Executive Director of Trees for Life, an award-winning conservation charity that has been working to restore the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands of Scotland since 1989. His work includes a special focus on media and public relations, major donor fundraising and biodiversity research at Dundreggan Conservation Estate.
The Network of Wellbeing’s Dr Larch Maxey said:
“Rewilding may improve people’s wellbeing. It can enhance our connection to nature, boost tourism, manage water supply and reduce flooding and pollution. Rewilding projects also offer opportunities for people to work together toward a common goal – such as through tree-planting. All of these benefits can enhance individuals’ and communities’ wellbeing. Rewilding can also begin at home and in our communities as people share spaces with each other and the natural world.”