Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation that’s all about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife’s natural rhythms are free to create wilder, more biodiverse habitats. Rewilding is the belief that nature knows best when it comes to survival and self-preservation. However, we can give it a helping hand by creating the right conditions such as removing dykes and dams to free up rivers, reducing active management of wildlife populations, allowing natural forest regeneration, and by reintroducing species that have disappeared as a result of the actions of humans.
Native wildlife species have strongly declined, even in our wildest areas. Some of them have already gone extinct, which we cannot accept as they play a critically important ecological role. Rewilding works to restore lost species by giving them space to thrive, by population enhancement, and by reintroducing native species. When nature is healthy, we are healthier too. We rely on the natural world for water, food and air. There is also a growing realisation that connecting with wild nature makes us feel good and keeps us mentally and physically well.
Rewilding is about reconnecting a modern society with a wilder nature. If we create and protect areas where rewilding can take place, both people and wildlife will benefit in the long term. On an individual scale, if you have any kind of outdoor space then you can help by rewilding to create homes for struggling wildlife by supporting the natural ecosystem. One of the easiest things you can do is to take a break from mowing your lawn and relaxing about weeding. Encouraging plants like clover which are a fantastic source of pollen as well as dead nettle and teasle which are relied on by Goldfinch and other beloved British birds.
If you are keen for a new project a pond is one of the single best things to attract wildlife to your garden according to the Wildlife Trust. You can get going with this at any time of year and might be surprised to learn that it's very easily achievable with any sized space. Pond plants often outgrow their space during Summer so ask around friends or look on places like Facebook marketplace for people in your area who might be willing to give you their excess plants to save you money. You can download a booklet full of ideas for ponds big and small here.
If you don’t want to rewild your whole garden, consider creating a ‘wild area’ using piles of leaves, old bits of wood, twigs and grass in a quiet, sheltered area of your outdoor space. This creates the perfect environment for insects such as beetles and slugs to thrive and could even become home to a local hedgehog! Plants considered weeds such as stinging nettles and dandelions provide homes for moths and butterflies, so designate an area where you leave weeds alone and you'll soon be rewarded with a wide array of beautiful insects and butterflies.
Switch harmful, chemical pesticides in favour of more natural alternatives to create a more wildlife-friendly environment in your own back garden. There are many organic, natural deterrents or alternatively you can make them yourself with natural ingredients. Try researching partner plants to establish positive relationships in your garden, for example lavender and nasturtiums can be planted at the base of fruit trees to detract insects and geraniums work in partnership with roses to fend off greenfly. There are also natures natural predators to bring into force such as ladybugs which will eat aphids, this website has some great simple tips for how to attract more ladybugs into your garden.
If you don't have your own outdoor space to rewild or want to help more, one of the best ways to support rewilding is to donate to or fundraise for organisations such as The Woodland Trust, Rewilding Britain, and Wildwood Trust.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever spotted out in nature? Let us know in the comments! Happy rewilding.
Written by Leona Chapman & Amy Fleuriot-Reade