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A Year in Partnership: Working with Rewilding Britain

12 months after announcing our new partnership with Rewilding Britain, we catch up with Kate Barclay, Head of Fundraising and Partnerships, on how it’s going.
Image credits: Cabilla © Cam Goodhead
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What has the Explore – Rewilding Britain partnership achieved in the last 12 months?

Rewilding Britain depends entirely on voluntary donations to do our work; so Explore's donations have been a lifeline! Explore has already given over £15,000, thanks to the simple act of adding a donation per individual booking. That's an amazing figure considering much of this was donated during covid lockdowns and reduced travel. Over the last year of the partnership we've achieved some incredible things, but one stand out is the growth of our Rewilding Network to almost 900 members. That means new rewilding initiatives of all shapes and sizes across Britain - from coastal community projects to ex-grouse moors to farm clusters - can access the tools they need to catalyse their rewilding journey, including events, webinars and connections to other rewilders. Our research of some of the network projects has shown a 65% increase in jobs thanks to rewilding!
 
But this partnership is so much more than a financial relationship; it's really a collaboration. Explore plays a really important role in promoting our work and campaigns, telling the story of how rewilding can benefit so many places and communities. We're now exploring together how the incredible rewilding projects we're working with could be integrated into Explore’s UK trips in the UK, and how Explore staff can get involved more proactively in their local areas.

Image credits: Kate Barclay © Jim Johnston

What are the different ways you rewild in the UK?

Rewilding means thinking big picture. It's about not focussing on a particular species or habitat, but restoring whole ecosystems and landscapes so that they're really working properly. The benefits are huge, from saving wildlife and tackling climate breakdown to helping people and communities thrive. Rewilding can involve anything from 'rewiggling' a river to reduce the risk of flash flooding to reintroducing species like beavers that create wetlands full of biodiversity to allowing trees to recolonise an area naturally. One of the most exciting examples of rewilding this year is in Kent, where they've brought back bison as part of an experiment to see if these incredible creatures can help manage woodland in a better way than we can with chainsaws. 

Can people help to rewild using their own land? What tips do you have?

Absolutely. It’s estimated that gardens in Britain cover an area more than twice as large as all of our national nature reserves. So with over half of our species in decline in Britain, and one in seven heading towards extinction, that space really matters. If each of these gardens in Britain were made even a tiny bit wilder - even if that simply means cutting your lawn less often - they could do a lot to offer a vital lifeline for wildlife. Read our tips to make your garden wilder. Or if you're lucky enough to own a larger piece of land, from a smallholding upwards, you can get all sorts of useful tips by joining our Rewilding Network. 

Image credits: Loch Beinn a'Mheadhoin in Glen Affric Scotland © Scotlandbigpicture.com

What upcoming project are you most excited about?

Last year we launched a new Rewilding Innovation Fund, to encourage new rewilders using a more innovative approach to managing land and marine projects. We’ve already supported 15 projects, from a community-led social prescribing initiative to projects using state-of-the-art technology to monitor how much carbon is stored in trees. Over the coming year we think this is only going to grow - and with it, the positive benefits for nature and people. We're also really excited about Marine Rewilding - watch this space for more kelp, oysters and so much more!

Image credits: Forest Discovery at Dundreggan © Chris Aldridge, Trees for Life

Congratulations on your Chelsea Flower Show win! Has it raised the profile of rewilding?

Thank you! Working with landscape designers Urquhart & Hunt to bring an award-winning garden to the show was a highlight of our year. Being able to show visitors what rewilding looks and feels like, and help shift the way people see and relate to the landscapes around them, was a golden opportunity. On top of that, the outpouring of excitement for the show garden across the nation – from a rewilding-themed Radio 6 Music listener’s playlist to a mention on Have I Got News for You – really helped to bring rewilding into the spotlight. 

Image credits: A Rewilding Britain Garden © James Ingram

Are you feeling positive about the future?

Yes! Rewilding is certainly a movement of hope - you just need to read one of the stories of what’s being achieved from a massive community-led rewilding project in Southern Scotland to kelp restoration in Sussex to feel like change is not only possible, but is something that we all play a small role in. More businesses like Explore are taking a nature positive approach within their action on the climate emergency, and more people are in support of rewilding. In a recent poll, over 80% of people said they are in support of rewilding in Britain. 

Image credits: Family playing in the water in Peak District © Sam Rose
 

 

How can people get involved?

Here’s a few ideas - but we're always open to more!

 

  • Go wilder at home! If you have any land (a garden, or a bit more), you can start there - we have some tips here on what you can do to let nature lead and increase the wildlife and species diversity on your doorstep.
  • Experience rewilding in action! There’s nothing quite like getting out to large areas where nature is starting to take control. Many of the Rewilding Network members are open to the public, but here are some suggestions to start with.
  • Fundraise! We are a charity, and every contribution goes towards our work to make rewilding happen across Britain. Whether it’s bake sales or marathons, we’d love to have your help. 
  • Volunteer! Many rewilding sites and partners we work with offer individual volunteering opportunities. Have a look at your local environmental charities (groups like the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB often have local actions you can participate in), check out your nearest rewilding sites in our Rewilding Network, or even start your own group. 
  • Keep informed about our campaigns by signing up to our monthly newsletter

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