ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Rewilding in the UK

Updated on November 10, 2014

The Scottish Highlands

A beautiful, but impoverished landscape. 400 years ago, pine trees would have covered this land.
A beautiful, but impoverished landscape. 400 years ago, pine trees would have covered this land. | Source

Introduction

For many people in Britain, a holiday to Kenya or Tanzania to catch a glimpse of Africa’s stunning megafauna, and in particular its predators is the trip of a lifetime. We also spend millions of pounds a year supporting Wildlife charities that help to stop the persecution of carnivores such as lions, wolves, bears, leopards and tigers. We absolutely love these creatures; we love their grace, their agility and their ferocity, but only if these creatures do not live on our door step. At present our largest predators in the UK are European badgers and red foxes. How can we expect people struggling to survive in the third world to live alongside dangerous animals, when we’re not willing to accommodate predators like wolves and bears? It wasn't always like this, for most of the time that humans have lived in Britain, we lived alongside creatures such as wolves, bears, lynx, moose, wild boar and beavers, but sadly over the course of the last few thousand years; they have been systematically exterminated. Even now, we still to continue to persecute our remaining predators mercilessly. wildcats are now extremely rare and can only be found in the remotest corners of the Scottish Highlands, whilst foxes, stoats and weasels are still trapped and poisoned in their thousands, as they are normally blamed for the loss of any free range poultry.

Yellowstone National Park- A Rewilding Success Story

Floating Island Lake in Yellowstone National Park
Floating Island Lake in Yellowstone National Park | Source

Why Bother?

There are two fundamental reasons why I think the reintroduction of once native mammals to the UK merits serious consideration. The first is ecological; the Scottish Highlands were once covered in pine forest, but since the 17th century, most of it has been cut down to make way for grazing land and arable farming. In the present era, deer and sheep are so numerous that any tree seedlings that sprout are instantly browsed and trampled. The theory is that if once native predators like wolves and bears were to return, then they could control the numbers of herbivores, and also disperse and scatter the herds to relieve the grazing pressure on a particular area of land. Hopefully the end result would be a more stable and healthier herbivore population, and more importantly the regeneration of the once extensive pine forest, known locally as the ‘Caledonian forest’. We can take inspiration from the successful reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the US. It was only in 1995 that they were brought back, but in just seventeen years, native vegetation such as aspen previously suppressed by elk, moose and bison has reappeared. The wolves help to control the numbers of the herbivores; they also help to disperse them over a wide area, so no one particular area gets overgrazed and they also create a healthier overall population of herbivores by selectively killing off the older and weaker animals. Of course, the success has come at a price, many of the local ranchers are unhappy, because of the increased predation on their livestock, so it remains to be seen whether the wolf has a long term future in Yellowstone.

The second reason is, and you can’t really ignore it, is the commercial potential. British people travel thousands of miles and pay out vast sums of money to see bears and wolves and other animals in countries as far apart as the US, Canada, Sweden and Romania. Surely it would be far better if we could enjoy these magnificent creatures on our doorstep, not to mention it would be cheaper and also cut our carbon footprint. Britain would probably receive a timely boost to its economy, due to the influx of tourists deciding to holiday at home rather than go abroad, and it could help to create hundreds maybe even thousands of jobs, in the retail, tourism and conservation industry, an influx of jobs is just what the UK needs at this moment in time.

The Six Candidates

Grey Wolf
Grey Wolf | Source
Wild Boar
Wild Boar | Source
Moose
Moose | Source
Eurasian Lynx
Eurasian Lynx | Source
European Beaver
European Beaver | Source
Brown Bear
Brown Bear | Source

The Return?

In 1992, the European Union passed a directive called the ‘European Habitats Directive’ basically it informed the members of the union to ‘study the desirability of reintroducing species that are native to its territory’. In all that time, Britain has made very little progress on this front, indeed the only thing we have done, is to reintroduce the once native pool frog, and even that was amid a storm of controversy, so what hope is there for our larger animals? Sadly there are no easy answers, due to the fact that the issues aren't just ecological but also political. Below I’m going to outline the pros and cons of reintroducing six once native species and where they potentially could live:

Grey Wolf:

Status: Officially the last individual was killed in 1680, but the species did manage to survive until the 1740s.

Pros: Could lead to the regeneration of the Caledonian pine forest by suppressing red deer.

Cons: Wolves do take livestock, especially sheep. Between 1950 and 2000, 21 people in Europe were attacked by wolves and four died.

Where: It would have to be the Scottish Highlands, as there is just not enough space for them in the rest of the UK. The loss of the odd sheep would surely be compensated for by increased tourism and a timely boost to the economy.

Wild Boar:

Status: Probably extinct by the end of the 13thCentury in the UK. However, feral animals that escaped from farms have managed to establish populations in Kent, Sussex, Dorset and Gloucestershire.

Pros: Studies show that wild boar increase biodiversity in woodlands by digging for roots and turning over the soil. They help to reduce the density of bracken, which can impede regeneration, and they may be able to reduce the impact of non native plants such as rhododendrons.

Cons: Britain is famous for its bluebell woods, each spring our deciduous woods gain a lovely blue carpet of flowers. But this may only be possible because of the absence of the wild boar and its foraging behaviour. Also, an adult male can be a very aggressive animal.

Where: The boar is already established in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, so other large, extensive woodlands would be the best place.

Moose:

Status: Went extinct in Britain about 3500 years- long before even the Romans arrived.

Pros: Magnificent animals that would be a major attraction for wildlife watchers and other tourists.

Cons: Like its deer cousins, it’s a browser, so they would probably inhibit the regeneration of native forest. In Canada, it’s said that they kill more people than any other animal (apart from bees) as a result of collisions with vehicles.

Where: Moose have already been reintroduced to the Highlands, albeit within the confines of a large fenced enclosure at the Alladale estate. But as for reintroduction into the wild, maybe they’re best left where they are for now.

Lynx:

Status: The Lynx went in extinct in the UK around 500 AD; they were probably persecuted for preying on livestock.

Pros: Lynx are primarily predators of deer of various species, so they would help to significantly reduce the population.

Cons: Very few. There are no records whatsoever of any attacks on humans, but they do take farm animals.

Where: Dorset has a huge population of non native sika deer that needs reducing.

Beaver:

Status: Disappeared between the 12th-16thcenturies. Two years ago 11 beavers were released back into the wild in Argyll, Scotland and last year they bred for the first time, so their reintroduction is already under way, although it’s early days to say whether it has been successful or not.

Pros: Beavers help to create ponds in river systems through their lodges and dams, which provide a habitat for fish, otters, waterfowl and dragonflies.

Cons: Few. They would probably feed on trees such as oak, rowan and willow, but would unlikely to result in deforestation- their impact would be similar to coppicing.

Where: With wild beavers established in a small corner of Scotland, English conservationists are currently carrying out a ‘trial’ release in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire; it’s a lovely part of the country with rolling hills, plenty of trees and clean rivers.

Brown Bear:

Status: Probably went extinct in the UK around 500 AD.

Pros: A charismatic species, definitely a draw for the tourists. But it won’t be as ecologically beneficial as the wolf, as they are more omnivore than carnivore.

Cons: They are dangerous to humans, despite the fact that North America’s 900,000 black and brown bear’s only kill an average of three people a year. They’re more likely to predate livestock; in fact one bear can kill up to 50 sheep in one night.

Where: Only where high sheep losses could be tolerated, and at present nowhere in the UK is suitable.

Glen Alladale

The site where Paul Lister and his team have begun planting new pine and deciduous trees. A fence has been built to keep out the grazing animals.
The site where Paul Lister and his team have begun planting new pine and deciduous trees. A fence has been built to keep out the grazing animals. | Source

A Highly Recommended Book

Beyond Conservation: A Wildland Strategy
Beyond Conservation: A Wildland Strategy

The Author, Peter Taylor puts forward a compelling argument for the reintroduction of large mammals into the UK

 

The Present and the Future?

As already mentioned, the beavers and wild boars reintroduction has already begun. The wild boar is probably here to stay, but for the beavers it’s early days to make a sound judgement. But what about the others? I also mentioned the fact that the moose had already been released into a large enclosure at Alladale, in the Scottish Highlands. I’m going to take the opportunity to tell you a little bit about the Alladale project.

It began in 2005, when one of the UK’s richest men, Paul Lister, heir to the fortune of the furniture retailer MFI took a trip to the Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa to witness a success story. In the early 1990’s a successful businessman called Adrian Gardiner bought a small farm as a weekend getaway for him and his family, in the area the reserve now covers. At the time, the neighbouring farmers were struggling with drought and lack of finance, so many of them placed their land on the open market. Adrian was able to buy up these parcels of land at very reasonable prices, within just a couple of years he had acquired 7000 acres and set out to achieve a lifelong dream of creating a wilderness preserve.

By the time of Lister’s visit, Adrian had succeeded in turning what had been agricultural land back into wilderness, full of indigenous wildlife, including some of Africa’s most charismatic species, such as lions, elephants and giraffes etc. Lister went away, inspired to create his own wilderness preserve back home. Almost immediately he purchased the 10,000 acre Alladale Estate in the Scottish Highlands and began making plans about reintroducing wolves, bears and other lost species. However, unlike his counterpart in South Africa, Lister has run into numerous problems. Firstly under Scottish law, you cannot just release large animals back into the wild, they need to be within an enclosed space. But by doing that, he creates a confusing paradox, because humans have ‘right to roam’ across all of the Highlands, therefore enclosing even the smallest area is totally illegal. Nevertheless, undeterred Lister erected a 90km long fence that encloses about 550 acres, and is already home to released herbivores such as wild boar and moose. It has three electric wires running at different heights, including one at ground level to stop the wild boar from digging underneath. Alarms have also been fitted, should any breach occur and all the released animals have radio collars, so that if they do escape, they can easily be recaptured. The fence has caused natural and justified outrage amongst the local walkers and ramblers who fought for years to gain ‘the right to roam’ across the Highlands. Lister also has a problem concerning the release of predators, and it’s this, now that he has decided to enclose his estate, he cannot release wolves and bears into the same enclosure as the herbivores for obvious reasons, so he would have to build a separate enclosure for them, or cordon off an area of the existing enclosure, but that would totally go against his original plan.

It remains to be seen whether Lister can succeed in his ambitious dream, in order to do so he will have to ride a wave of legislation and bureaucracy. Back in 2006, he hoped that by now he would have the predators established. He also hoped that he would be able to attract 50,000 tourists a year. He envisaged guided tours through the enclosed area and cameras set up at special feeding areas, but so far none of those plans have come to pass. Instead Lister and his team have been concentrating on planting 200,000 pine seedlings and 50,000 deciduous seedlings in order to help the regeneration process along a bit at a nearby site called Glen Alladale, which is the core area of the estate. Lister is also promoting the estate as a holiday getaway, and also as a traditional deer stalking and fishing estate.

© 2012 James Kenny

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, first of all what a great hub, and so detailed. I would love to see some of these animals back in the UK. I would definitely stay here in Britain on holiday if I could just go up to Scotland or anywhere else to see them. Yes there would be problems, but I think the pros outway the cons, and wouldn't it be great to see the big cats or the wolves back?

    • profile image

      Silvers-Jain8 5 years ago

      This was a great article and I think this was long overdue. Wow I didn't know the UK had such issues with their (lack) of rightful animal population. I understand that people today find living near large animals a nuisance, dangerous, and a problem that messes up their income; but I wonder if they ever thought that they themselves are a inconvenience for the animals too. I mean we humans are so so greedy. We use all the resources, take almost all the land, and have nerve enough to be aggravated at animals that are their by right.

      Sometimes is seems we forget that we share this huge world with other creatures. For some people seeing animals in their habitat counts as the zoo. They don't see that we are apart of the environment and nature that we have manipulated for our pleasures. The whole view is screwed. Animals belong in the wilderness and they are meant to just be. If they are dangerous, then that is their nature and we are interfering on their turf.

      It saddens me greatly when animals go exist and are on the brink of extinction, because who knows how many species we have killed unknowingly. We don't know even half of the creatures that exist on this planet yet we wipe them out so easily. ~sighs~

      People have to learn that everything isn't meant to be tamed. Anyway excuse my angsty rant lol this was great by the way. I'm glad their considering at least to do something.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks, Nell. I would absolutely love to see the predators return one day. I'd also love to be able to see Wild Horses and Wild Cattle alongside the Moose, Wild Boar and European Bison. It would be fantastic, especially if we could regenerate our ancient forest as well.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Silvers-Jain8, I agree with you, for too long we have suppressed predators and other large animals, but we're now beginning to realise that we need these animals to maintain a healthy biosphere. We have to cast aside our medieval fears of creatures like Wolves and understand that we have to live alongside them, hopefully we change our ways before its too late.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Wonderful article that made me ponder about the ways of man and the decisions we have made through the years.

      NEWS FLASH: Congratulations on your Hubnuggets Nomination! See your hub in the Pets and Animals category, this way http://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/h... Now remember to read, vote and promote! Love and blessings in behalf of the Hubnuggets Team and ripplemaker (hubnuggets official cheerleader! Three Hurrays! Best of luck to you!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Radical and interesting and certainly your Hub provides a lot of information to consider and digest, all the pros and cons makes it a very difficult debate.

      Thanks.

      It is a very brave Hub.

      All the best with it in Hub Nuggets.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Wow, that is a ton of information. Thanks for such a detailed and educational hub. Congratulations on your Hub Nuggets nomination.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks ripplemaker. Rewilding has been something I wanted to write about for a long time, and I'm glad I've been given the opportunity to do it here. I can't believe I've been nominated. Thanks ever so much for your support.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks GoodLady, yes it's a very difficult subject to talk about. Personally I'd love to see larger animals back in the UK. But there's just so many different factors. The main thing is space, we're only a tiny island, if we had the sort of space that the US or Canada has, then it wouldn't be a problem. Thanks again for commenting and take care.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks a lot, Sherry. I can't believe I've had a nomination already. I've been on here five weeks, but I've only been writing for just over two weeks. So thank you once again.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Hi JKenny, I'm a fellow hubnugget nominee, and I see neither of us won. But I just wanted to say, even though all of the nominees were good, I thought your hub was the best of the nominees.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks a lot Sherry, I thought that all the nominated articles were good too. To be honest, winning wasn't that important to me, I was just delighted to be nominated.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 5 years ago from SW England

      Congrats on the nomination. What a brilliant hub, full of information and so well-balanced. I'd love to see beavers and wolves especially. It's a shame we don't see the red squirrel down here in the South too (is that indigenous, I'm not sure?). Never seen or heard the term 'rewilding' before - great word which does exactly what it says on the tin! Voted up, interesting and beautiful.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      The term "rewilding" in your title caught my eye. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi annart, thanks very much for your kind words. Yes, the Red Squirrel is native, unfortunately, its now rarer than ever, thanks largely to the Grey Squirrel among other things. However, there are still quite a few in northern Scotland, hopefully they hang on. I remember seeing them on Jersey a few years ago, absolutely gorgeous creatures, you can understand why Beatrix Potter was inspired by them.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi alocsin, thanks very much for dropping by, very much appreciated. I remember coming across the word in a book I read a few years ago, and I thought 'I must write about that'. Its a subject that's very close to my heart.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I would love to see those animals re-wilded back into your area. I believe they were there for a good reason and it is a shame that they have been obliterated there. I love nature and animals...good for you to be on their side! Voted up and awesome. Thanks for SHARING! :)

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      I would dearly love to see large animals return to the UK. But being a tiny Island with a crowded population, the main issue is space. But I still live in hope, the Scottish Highlands are relatively vast and sparsely populated, so hopefully it will happen. Thanks for dropping by, sgbrown and thanks for the share and the vote too.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

      Some very interesting and also controversial ideas here. It would be great to see some of these animals back in the wild in the UK. I believe the wild boar that have repopulated themselves are doing quite well here in Dorset, and pose no threat to anything else. The difficulty is in finding the right environment for these animals now, especially the larger ones, as Britain is so densely populated, and predatory animals are not very popular with farmers. Well done on writing such an informative and interesing hub, with balanced views of the pros and cons involved.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks Imogen, yes it is controversial, because whatever happens there will be a loser. If things stay as they are, then the environment is the loser. But on the other hand, like you say you have to consider the concerns of farmers, because they have a business to run. I'm glad to hear of Wild Boar doing well in Dorset, I managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of one in the Forest of Dean a few years ago, and it was something special.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      Excellent hub. Like Imogen I would love to see more diverse wildlife in the UK and if we could reforest the country too, that would be even better. For the moment I suspect that we will have to be satisfied with the reintroduction of the Pool Frog and the beavers though.

      Voted up and shared.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      As a lover of the wildlife I enjoyed reading this very detailed hub.

      Makes me realize how lucky I have been to have lived

      in South Africa, and once, right of the border of the Kruger National Park.

      Loved the photos!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Fantastic hub JK, so much detail. I think the Paul Lister story is very interesting; he was obviously very inspired by what he saw in Africa and it will be interesting to see how far he gets with his ideas in Scotland.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Wow, how lucky you were to live right next to Kruger. I bet it was dangerous place to go jogging though haha! Really appreciate you dropping by. Take care.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Jools, I think Lister is fantastic, but I'm not sure whether he will succeed, the law can be such a pain at times. But hopefully someday in the future, his dreams will come true. Thanks for dropping by.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi Judi, yes I'd like it if they could reforest the country. As far as I know, there are a few projects going on in the highlands, but I doubt whether it'll be possible anywhere else. But we can always hope.

    • profile image

      mike 5 years ago

      Take some advice from a friend here in the US. Don't do it. We have had radical environmentalist groups and various branches of the gov. releasing dangerous preditors bback into places where they have not existed for hundreds of years and in some cases,with bears for example in places where they never existed.The results have been les than optimal to say the least. The wolves in Yellowstone have nearly wiped out a subspecies of bighorn sheep there,in california mountain lion attacks on people have become fairly common,and nothing lays waste to a delicate echo system like invasive wild boar.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks for the comment Mike. You raise some very interesting points, and that's why we have to be extremely careful of how far we go in attempting to rewild Britain. The Brown Bear, I must admit is an unrealistic option because of the lack of space and potential threat to man. For Wolves, the main issues are livestock predation and the possibility of young wolves dispersing into urban areas. But I think they need to be brought back because the Deer are out of control in the Highlands.

      The Wild Boar I know is invasive to the US, but here in England it is a part of our native fauna. Evidence from the Forest of Dean seems to suggest that the Boar actually stimulates the ecosystem, by turning over the soil, and thus allowing a greater diversity of plant species to thrive in British Woodland.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Excellent article. I'm in favour and have been following the progress of the growing wild boar population and the beaver reintroduction. I vote for lynx or wolves next!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks Nettlemere, we could certainly do with wolves and the lynx coming back because of the bloated deer population in the highlands.

      On a brighter note, we've got great bustards back on Salisbury plain, we've got common cranes back in Norfolk, red kites, buzzards and ravens are getting more common, and of course we have the wild boar and the beavers back too. Hopefully, the way things are going Britain will be able to call itself a wild country again.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

      What a brilliant and educational hub. I was not aware of these issues in UK. Living in Sweden surrounded with forest, I'm used to large animals walking right up to my front door. The only time I feel it can be of some nuisance are when the moose get to enjoy the apples on my apple tree before I do.Lol! However, to have the privilege to watch these magnificent animals close up, is just remarkable. I hope to see some of these animals back in the wild in the UK someday. Thank you for sharing this beautiful hub. Voted up and awesome.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Hi SanneL; how lucky you are to live in such a wonderful place. I'd love to be able to step out of my house and see a moose or hear a wolf howl somewhere in the distance. I've read a lot about the Swedish wilderness, and its definitely somewhere I'd like to go one day. I hope that someday, we can bring a little bit of wilderness back to the UK, I'd love to see wolves and bears stalking the Scottish Highlands again. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      There's a quite good article on the possibility of reintroducing the Eurasion Lynx in to the UK in the April BBC wildlife magazine for anyone who fancies some extra reading.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Really! I'll have to check it out. While I admit Wolves will be tricky to reintroduce, the Lynx shouldn't be a problem at all, they need to be brought back as soon as possible. Thanks, Nettlemere.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is a beautiful piece. Animals are a necessary part of a good ecological system, and your area has been without them too long to be able to sustain a proper balance. I grew up in the country with bears, moose, deer and bobcat aplenty. They still had plenty of deer and moose. The worst thing that the bears did was eat black oil sunflower seeds and take the bird feeders that they couldn't open. Yes, wild animals kill people, but the secret is to not approach them. I could go on and on. To summarize, what you are writing about makes a lot of sense, and I hope that Mr.Lister can move along on his project.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks aviannovice; you are so lucky to have grown up in such an area. I think you're right about bears. The problem often lies with people, not with the bear. The bears don't actively seek out people to attack them. When they do occur, it's usually down to human ignorance. I hope Paul's project succeeds one day, I also hope others will draw inspiration from him. We need our large animals back, we can't really call ourselves a wild country if they're not there. Thanks for dropping by.

    • kerryg profile image

      kerryg 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for dropping by my rewilding hub the other day - it might have been months before I noticed this one otherwise! Really excellent work here, and especially interesting to see the issue approached from a non-American perspective. From what you've written, it sounds like you have a problem with deer very similar to what we have in the Eastern US, and wolves and lynx would probably be just the ticket to solve it. The difference in Yellowstone is really startling - since the wolves have returned, they have the first young aspen trees growing in more than 50 years! I have no doubt that Britain's lost forests are also lying quietly underground, biding their time until they are released from grazing pressure.

      The sheep issue is really a thorny one, though. In much of the US I've always argued that ranchers would be better off raising bison instead of cattle anyway (the fact that bison are less vulnerable to wolf predation is only one of many benefits), but sheep are even more vulnerable to wolves than cattle and I'm not aware of any comparable native British herbivore that could be substituted for sheep. I wonder if livestock guardian dogs might present a partial solution?

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks for dropping kerryg, the guardian dogs sounds like quite a good idea, as they would surely be able to keep wolves at bay. We do have a European bison that was once native to Britain, which some are trying to bring back, but they're still very rare and they have a different temperament to their American cousins, so replacing sheep would definitely pose more of a problem over here.

    • profile image

      anonyumous 4 years ago

      hello i can see the lynx being brought back and the mouse being brought back i know thay are back but properly the wild boer and maby the wolf but doubtful no chance of the bear being brought back just my opinion

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thanks anon, yep the bear is probably a bit too dangerous at this time to be brought back.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      I read this interesting hub long after it was first published, but I loved it. As a nature lover, but not an animal right activist in the strictest sense of the phrase, rewilding seems very practical approach to me to bring nature back to our lands that can go a long way in developing our respective ecologies and economies through tourism.

      A good example of rewilding is in Russia. They have taken the lead and will soon harvest the associated benefits through tourism.

      Rewilding can certainly bring tourists to UK who otherwise have to spend lot of money traveling to, for example, the USA to observe some of its precious natural resources lost over time.

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thank you Suhail, for me rewilding is just about the best idea I've ever heard in regards to conservation. I've heard about the Pleistocene Park in Russia, but the Dutch are also jumping on the bandwagon. They've already created the Oostvaarderplassen preserve and are now looking to link it via a wildlife corridor to the Ardennes forest in Belgium. Hope never dies.

    • profile image

      citizen67 4 years ago

      How about adding the Beech Marten (also know as the Stone Marten) cousin to the Pine Marten to that list.?Native, it only went extinct here about 100 odd years ago. attractive, cute and less controversial than any of the suggested reintroductions!!!.

      BEECH MARTEN!!!!!!

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Yes why not! Also we could focus on bringing back some long lost bird species, like the white stork and the Dalmatian pelican.

    • profile image

      citizen67 4 years ago

      Putting in my pitch for the reintroduction of the Beech Marten:

      1. it would be the least controversial:

      2. the smallest of the proposed reintroductions

      3. the most recent to go extinct from the UK (only 100 years ago)

      4. it doesn't kill sheep at all (and chickens, only rarely)

      5. the cheapest to reintroduce (they can be taken from many countries in Europe, they are not rare or endangered)

      6. it's cute, unlike a frog, photogenic, good for publicity and promotional purposes

      We would need to start off on a really good reintroduction success story if are to make reintroduction popular. :o)

    • profile image

      citizen67 4 years ago

      ..and not controversial.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Good one citizen67!

    • profile image

      PennLawyer 4 years ago

      Just saw a TV program about Alladale Estate and Lister's efforts, googled "rewilding" and came across your page - quite informative and a good read. Rewilding is a far better use, ecologically, environmentally and culturally, of the magnificently beautiful Highlands than yet another pretentious golf course by Donald Trump. I spent a week in the fall of 2011 at Aigas Field Centre in the Highlands, and enjoyed seeing (sometimes at night from hides or driving along remote back roads, with night vision goggles) badgers, otters, beavers, red deer, roe deer, Sitka deer, red squirrels and a pair of Scottish wildcats - not to mention seals and dolphins on excursions to the coast, and vast numbers of shore and game birds. Aigas had just started a breeding programme for the wildcats, and had a pair of adults in a relatively large enclosure. Since my visit, the pair has produced a kitten. See photos at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.39922092...

    • JKenny profile image
      Author

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Thank you very much PennLawyer, I'm also bitterly angry at the stupid golf course...I mean Scotland is the home of golf, why does it need another golf course for crying out loud? The Aigas Field Centre sounds exactly like the kind of place I'd love to visit. Thank you for the link too- lovely pictures.

    Click to Rate This Article