SO WHAT IS THIS REWILDING?
Rewilding seems to be a very trendy term these days. We hear about large areas of land being ‘rewilded’ across the globe. Here in the UK there are many projects underway and we hope for many more very soon.
By far the most famous is the Knepp Estate, a short-ish journey from Marlow situated in Horsham, West Sussex. Knepp is 3,200 acres in size and began it’s rewilding journey some 20 years ago (2001) after many efforts failed to make the land that had been arable farmed for decades produce worthwhile yield. Today it is a testimony to how nature can regenerate with relative speed, (many species at risk are now taking up residence and are breeding,) proof of what can be done if humans take a bit of a step back and ‘facilitate’ natural recovery of the land.
In brief, the land is rewilded by fencing large areas of it and allowing grazing herbivores, similar to old native but now extinct breeds, to roam freely and live wildly. They are ecosystem engineers which means they create, modify, maintain or destroy a habitat and are essential for the health and stability of the environment. At Knepp these animals are pigs, cows, deer and ponies; with beavers being reintroduced soon. The regenerative land process sees changes in the rivers and the emergence of lakes, scrub appears and trees naturally seed themselves into bramble escaping grazing. Knepp is more like a wild African safari than an old farm in southern England.
If you visit, a glimpse of a beautiful sow with her piglets or the impressive longhorn cattle as they emerge from the wilderness is exhilarating; but then there is the song of the rare Nightingale and coo-coo of the Turtle Doves, sounds that many of us have sadly not heard since childhood.
Do visit Knepp, it is a must, you can just walk around it without charge https://knepp.co.uk/
More rewilding projects are emerging and a new charity called Heal, founded amongst others by Jan Stannard and Cindy Barnes is the one to watch and support. Jan and Cindy are locals from our friends at Wild Maidenhead and Wild Cookham and Heal Rewilding is raising money to buy two sites in England and rewild them, do check it out at https://www.healrewilding.org.uk/
BUT these projects are just part of the rewilding story, you do not need 3,500 acres to make a difference and whilst these projects are vital, so too is the smaller scale stuff in our urban environments. Rewilding can happen in a plant pot or on a balcony, street verges, edges of playgrounds, public parks, office grounds, pretty much anywhere, nature will rewild edges of paths and concrete if we just simply let it.
Rewilding is also about us. We need to take more notice of the natural world and use all our senses to take the time to curiously enquire. It doesn't matter what plant or insect we are looking at, no-one is going to give you a test, just notice their behaviour, form, colour, smell, and see what is around them. From there we will begin to feel more of an affinity, for we share much.
We can leave bare soil for nature to plant and wait for what comes and learn from it. Tending rather than lots of gardening doesn't mean abandonment, quite the opposite, it is an active choice to leave the ‘weeds’ that are in fact wildflowers, to come up amongst our plantings and be ok with what they have to offer, you may be very pleasantly surprised!
This often difficult process of letting go for us humans brings life, a different energy comes into the garden, and if we let ourselves enquire and be within it, we rewild ourselves more and more.
So why not join in our campaign to be wilder, be part of our Much Wilder Marlow PLEDGE and help build a corridor for nature across Marlow. https://forms.gle/MtnF63K3ohckcCJd9