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Rewilding - Setting nature free

Human beings in general regard nature as something to control and dominate. Even the commonly held western view of having stewardship over nature sees us as separate from nature, looking on from the outside ensuring that nature is happy within its own boundaries. But in reality humans are an integral part of nature and dependent on natural processes for survival, health and wellbeing.

Humans have become increasingly estranged from nature. Historically, major religions taught grand ideas of our divine origins that place us outside nature with the right to subjugate her to our will. The industrial revolution strengthened us in our belief that nature could be brought completely under human control, and as we have become an increasingly urban species, our time dominated by the demands of the economy, many people are now ignorant of the role nature still plays in our lives. This separation has brought us to a crisis point where nature may become unable to deliver the many services our complex societies need in order to function.

In response to the alarms sounded in the State of Nature report 2013, the Government has produced a 25 year plan to improve the environment. This plan together with conservation strategies by various agencies all reflect the notion of stewardship - that we need to look after this separate entity we call ‘nature’ in protected designated sites.

But nature does not need ‘looking after’ by us. Nature is perfectly capable of managing itself, it has been doing so for millions of years before the agricultural revolution. What we need to do is to make space for nature, integrate her back into our lives. When natural processes are allowed to work, nature will quickly recover.

‘Making Space for Nature’, a report written for the Government in 2010 argues that we need a step-change in our approach to wildlife conservation, from protecting what we have, to one of large-scale habitat restoration re-establishing ecological processes and ecosystem services. It is recognised that such a restoration plan would benefit both people and wildlife. This is the approach of rewilding.

Rewilding is not just about the reintroduction of top carnivores. It must begin with the reestablishment of the native plant community. The aim of rewilding is to restore and maintain vital ecosystem services such as improving air quality, moderating local weather patterns, controlling flooding and erosion, all services that benefit human communities.

Conflicts between multiple land uses have to be resolved. Without the full engagement of the community, conservation projects of any sort are doomed.

Our conference ‘Hope for Nature’ will explore these ideas and consider how we can make space for nature in our lives, how we can build a better future for both people and wild nature.

The Conference is on 19th January 10.30 - 5pm

at the Bamford Village Institute,

Main Road, Bamford S33 0DY

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