Rewilding and habitat restoration

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Woodchopper
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Sep 01, 2021 7:50 am

IvanV wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 9:34 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Aug 30, 2021 10:02 pm
Thousands of people go all the way to Mull to see eagles (pdf) - the potential for wolf safaris or lynx watchpoints must be enormous.
Good luck to them. I don't have any expectation of seeing lynx or wolves if they are reintroduced. They are hard enough to see where they have been long established and at maximum density.
Yes, wild lynx and wolves are very shy and roam over a large territory. It would be very hard to provide tourists with a reliable experience that they'll pay to go and see. But its possible to build a tourism industry round semi-tame animals. For example ones that live in a large fenced off enclosure and are fed regularly at a certain spot. Such an area could be integrated with a genuine rewilded area so people could see the same animals that are roaming wild over the fence. Though of course there are all the arguments about the ethics of zoos.
IvanV wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 9:34 pm


Large birds that soar through the air are much easier to spot. Nevertheless, I have not seen sea eagles, for all my multi-day cycling tours on several occasions in the right areas of each Mull, Iceland and Norway.
Go on a canoe trip on the lakes in South-western Sweden and you can see loads of them.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Sep 01, 2021 8:01 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Aug 30, 2021 10:02 pm
More on the direct economic benefits of rewilding: Rewilding 5% of England could create 20,000 rural jobs
Rewilding 5% of England could create nearly 20,000 jobs in rural communities and increase employment by 50% compared with intensive farming, figures show.

Hybrid roles in animal husbandry and ecology, positions in nature tourism and specialist roles in species reintroductions could be among the new positions, according to analysis from Rewilding Britain, alongside benefits for biodiversity and the climate.

The drive to restore nature on a large scale in the UK’s landscapes has sparked fears of job losses in the agriculture community owing to perceived links to abandoning farmland and halting food production.

But Prof Alastair Driver, the director of Rewilding Britain who put together the figures, said the analysis showed rewilding on marginal land could increase employment without stopping traditional agricultural activities.
While it's a partisan analysis, it is based on sensible data:
The projection is based on detailed surveys of 27 large rewilding sites in England, totalling about 29,162 hectares (72,062 acres) of marginal land in the charity’s network of estates, farms and conservation areas.

On the sites, positions in education, livestock management and restoration activities were created, according to analysis of the responses, alongside a ninefold increase in volunteering positions.

The area represents about 0.2% of England and the job gains have been extrapolated to 5% of England. The charity’s goal is to rewild 5% of Britain.

“We are only scratching the surface in terms of nature-based tourism in this country. Diversification will increase resilience in the face of trade deals, tariffs and the future of farming,” Driver said.
I'd say that as rewilding takes off, and support for industrial agriculture wanes, the number of jobs gained is likely to be even more significant. Similarly, reintroductions of exciting species would massively increase desire for UK-based wildlife tourism (just as covid and the climate emergency might lessen foreign travel). Thousands of people go all the way to Mull to see eagles (pdf) - the potential for wolf safaris or lynx watchpoints must be enormous.
That looks plausible. Mechanization has meant that very few people are actually employed directly in food production. Service industries like tourism are far more labour intensive, and areas of forest are likely to attract more tourists than cultivated fields. There wasn't much information in the article, but it would be interesting to see how many jobs are due to new businesses and how many are created by rewilding its self (and probably funded by government spending).

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Sep 03, 2021 12:06 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Sep 01, 2021 7:50 am
IvanV wrote:
Tue Aug 31, 2021 9:34 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Aug 30, 2021 10:02 pm
Thousands of people go all the way to Mull to see eagles (pdf) - the potential for wolf safaris or lynx watchpoints must be enormous.
Good luck to them. I don't have any expectation of seeing lynx or wolves if they are reintroduced. They are hard enough to see where they have been long established and at maximum density.
Yes, wild lynx and wolves are very shy and roam over a large territory. It would be very hard to provide tourists with a reliable experience that they'll pay to go and see. But its possible to build a tourism industry round semi-tame animals. For example ones that live in a large fenced off enclosure and are fed regularly at a certain spot. Such an area could be integrated with a genuine rewilded area so people could see the same animals that are roaming wild over the fence. Though of course there are all the arguments about the ethics of zoos.
I would assume that any reintroduction project would make use of feeding stations, at least in the first few years as part of "soft release". Introduced animals would probably also be closely monitored and almost certainly tracked with technological loggers. So it would be pretty easy for project biologists to assist a certain amount of tourism to bring funding into the project. This already happens with lynx in Spain. Wolves are a bit easier - there are loads of wolf-spotting trips available in places like Yellowstone.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Sep 03, 2021 12:23 pm

Pretty damning paper on the current model of conservation in the UK, published in Global Ecology and Conservation.

From the abstract:
We find that although 28% of UK land is reported by the UK government to be protected, only 11.4% of land area falls within protected areas designated primarily for nature conservation. Condition monitoring indicates that at most 43–51% of protected areas in the UK are currently in favourable condition, which suggests as little as 4.9% of UK land area may be effectively protected for nature. However, estimates of protected area coverage vary greatly depending on the types of protected areas considered ‘effectively protected’ as measured by management category and site condition. Taking the UK as an example of a country that has reportedly met the target, we suggest that global progress may have been overestimated, and that future targets and indicators need to focus on the quality as well as quantity of protected areas.
For example, the UK's National Parks don't meet the IUCN definition of a national park, because they're aiming to preserve historical landscapes rather than conserve biodiversity. This means that things like farming are subsidised, along with permitting intensification (such that the landscape isn't actually preserved anyway, but hey that's shifting baseline syndrome for you), with pretty disastrous consequences for nature.

Plus, of course, there's basically no funding or incentive to maintain the few areas where conservation is supposedly important, like SSSIs (which are mostly too small anyway). And there's the current scandal highlighting how many supposedly protected rivers and coastal areas are used by water companies as a dumping ground for sewage. Etcetera etcetera.

The UK is one of the richest countries in the world with a huge amount of expertise in doing this stuff. Which suggests that in most other countries the situation may be even worse, at least in places that don't give a crap.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Fri Sep 03, 2021 4:58 pm

Thanks for highlighting that paper. I'm going to give it a read, it looks really interesting if - as is so often the case for this stuff - majorly depressing.

Anecdotally, I live right by an SSSI (I'm just off to walk my dog in it) and it's mostly grazed with cattle or sheep, with a few fields occasionally used for crops. Those not regularly grazed are cut for hay or silage. We have a good variety of wildlife (see my photos in A Bugs Life for examples) but the streams and rhynes get routinely dredged and the field and access road margins get regularly cut, and there generally seems very little that's done to protect or even not actively harm the wildlife that is here. The value of the land as pasture is clearly more important than its biodiversity. Part of the reason I've started photographing the wildlife there so much is to try to document it in a probably vain attempt to protect the land against any future development. I keep my eye out for the species that have led to its designation but so far have failed to find some of them. It may be that they are present in other parts that I don't frequent but I do wonder if they've just disappeared.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by nekomatic » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:01 pm

I saw sea eagles on a boat trip around Raasay, if that helps. Or does it have to be under your own motive power?
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:07 pm

Really interesting thread by one of the authors on a new paper in Nature Sustainability (behind a paywall - if anyone has access I'd really like a copy!) that measures the changes in forest canopy cover following reforestation efforts in India. The TL:DR is that there wasn't any.
We find that tree plantings have not, on average, increased the proportion of forest canopy cover and have modestly shifted forest composition away from the broadleaf varieties valued by local people. Further cross-sectional analysis, from a household livelihood survey, shows that tree planting supports little direct use by local people. We conclude that decades of expensive tree planting programmes in this region have not proved effective. This result suggests that large-scale tree planting may sometimes fail to achieve its climate mitigation and livelihood goals.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by monkey » Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:25 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:07 pm
Really interesting thread by one of the authors on a new paper in Nature Sustainability (behind a paywall - if anyone has access I'd really like a copy!) that measures the changes in forest canopy cover following reforestation efforts in India. The TL:DR is that there wasn't any.
We find that tree plantings have not, on average, increased the proportion of forest canopy cover and have modestly shifted forest composition away from the broadleaf varieties valued by local people. Further cross-sectional analysis, from a household livelihood survey, shows that tree planting supports little direct use by local people. We conclude that decades of expensive tree planting programmes in this region have not proved effective. This result suggests that large-scale tree planting may sometimes fail to achieve its climate mitigation and livelihood goals.
I just tried, I couldn't get access, but I found this preprint that appears to be the same work. There do seem to be differences in the wording of the abstract, but not the substance of it, and the figures look to be the same. No idea about the main text, but I reckon you'll get a good idea about the nature version from it.

pdf clicky

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by bmforre » Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:58 am

From Norway to other coasts
Norway is dense with eagles. Article in Norwegian reports successes fetching birds from here to other parts of Europe.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Oct 06, 2021 4:13 pm

In case there were any doubt about how mainstream the "rewilding" concept has become - and how wary we need to be of things sold under that umbrella - Boris Johnson has just promised to support a load of rewilding, including the catchphrase "build back beaver".

Yes really https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/ ... e-25150651

Potentially good news, but last time I checked the government's 30% target included dross like National Parks and AONBs which are currently neither managed for conservation nor wild.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Gfamily » Sun Nov 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Am currently watching the new BBC series, The Lakes with Simon Reeve.

His programmes always give new insights into the lives of the people he visits.

Lots on rewilding and the issues around it.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Grumble » Sun Nov 14, 2021 10:09 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Sun Nov 14, 2021 9:40 pm
Am currently watching the new BBC series, The Lakes with Simon Reeve.

His programmes always give new insights into the lives of the people he visits.

Lots on rewilding and the issues around it.
Ooh, thanks for that. He touched on rewilding a little bit in his programmes about Cornwall as well, at least he visited a beaver lake.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Gfamily » Sun Nov 14, 2021 10:19 pm

Series link - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0011p16

One of the programmes of the year for me.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Grumble » Sat Dec 25, 2021 6:59 pm

For Christmas I’ve got this: Rebirding: Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation: Restoring Britain's Wildlife https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784272191/ ... 8YFZ4SRG1J

Looks really interesting and very relevant to this thread. I did a quick text search to see if it had been mentioned before but nothing showed up. Has anyone read it already?
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by dyqik » Sat Dec 25, 2021 7:56 pm

Grumble wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 6:59 pm
For Christmas I’ve got this: Rebirding: Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation: Restoring Britain's Wildlife https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784272191/ ... 8YFZ4SRG1J

Looks really interesting and very relevant to this thread. I did a quick text search to see if it had been mentioned before but nothing showed up. Has anyone read it already?
If so, don't tell Grumble who dunnit until he's had a chance to read it.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:49 am

Grumble wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 6:59 pm
For Christmas I’ve got this: Rebirding: Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation: Restoring Britain's Wildlife https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784272191/ ... 8YFZ4SRG1J

Looks really interesting and very relevant to this thread. I did a quick text search to see if it had been mentioned before but nothing showed up. Has anyone read it already?
I have - it's a very good book. MacDonald knows his onions (and indeed birds), explains the status quo very well and has an enormous, ambitious vision for the future.

I won't post any spoilers, but I'd be interested to hear what you think when you've read it.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Aitch » Sun Dec 26, 2021 1:26 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:49 am
Grumble wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 6:59 pm
For Christmas I’ve got this: Rebirding: Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation: Restoring Britain's Wildlife https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784272191/ ... 8YFZ4SRG1J

Looks really interesting and very relevant to this thread. I did a quick text search to see if it had been mentioned before but nothing showed up. Has anyone read it already?
I have - it's a very good book. MacDonald knows his onions (and indeed birds), explains the status quo very well and has an enormous, ambitious vision for the future.

I won't post any spoilers, but I'd be interested to hear what you think when you've read it.
Would you like to comment on the long one-star review it gets?

Not being sarky, I know little about the subject and would be interested in your view.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by jimbob » Mon Dec 27, 2021 10:33 pm

This popped up on my YouTube recommendations yesterday.

https://youtu.be/3VZSJKbzyMc

One thing that I found interesting was that he stated that when he started trying to restore native forest to the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, his idea of just letting the gorse alone, was considered novel and unlikely to achieve much.

I went to NZ after my A-levels in 1991, and made some comment about how it was a pity to see so much gorse around in what looked (to my 18-yr old eyes) to be heavily overgrazed hillsides.

The bloke I was with (maybe a volunteer at the DoC who knew my cousins) stated that it was a good nursery plant, and that the native bush would outcompete it. Which if you've seen NZ bush, was entirely believable. So either within 3 years, it was common knowledge, or it wasn't so novel.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by IvanV » Tue Dec 28, 2021 3:13 pm

jimbob wrote:
Mon Dec 27, 2021 10:33 pm
This popped up on my YouTube recommendations yesterday.

https://youtu.be/3VZSJKbzyMc

One thing that I found interesting was that he stated that when he started trying to restore native forest to the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch, his idea of just letting the gorse alone, was considered novel and unlikely to achieve much.
I shall never forget seeing a large advertising hoarding by the side of the road in New Zealand, somewhere north of Auckland, saying something like "J Smith and Sons, Gorsekillers". Gorse is really invasive in NZ.

It is interesting what he has achieved on the Banks Peninsular, using the gorse as a nursery plant. I was disappointed that there was no mention of possums. Possums are perhaps the worst of many problems with ecosystem destruction in NZ. They eat animals as well as plants. At peak, there were around 60m-70m of them, though apparently control has reduced this to about a half these days. Native bush regeneration in many parts of NZ is impeded by possums. The article I linked suggested that you have keep them to about 5% of what would occur without control to allow trees to grow. Maybe they are doing that on Banks. Or does the gorse protect the seedlings from being eaten by possums?

ETA: I've just had a look at the Hinewai Reserve website and they mention "traps" so I suspect there is possum control.

You travel around the parts of the north island where there used to be great kauri forests, and there are no kauri seedlings. There aren't even seedlings even in the few preserved areas of kauri forest. Go to Great Barrier Island where possums have been eradicated, or never came, and there are dense thickets of kauri seedlings. And loads of kakas flying around, native parrots which are a rare sight on the mainland. Possums is the problem.

Gorse can be a problem in its native areas. I have had problems encountering impassable gorse on paths, or at least getting very badly scratched by it, in a variety of places from Portugal to Italy to Britain to Norway north of the Arctic circle. Why doesn't it have this "nursery" effect everywhere?

Let's take the example of northern Portugal. It is a place I have been to several times over 40 years. The last time I was there, gorse was a real problem following the paths described in the excellent walking book we had. It was evidently spreading. The impression I got was that it was previously held in check by goats. But the villages were being emptied, and the few old people remaining could no longer run goats to pasture. On previous trips, I had seen children keeping an eye on the goats. Will this gorse now allow the native pine forest to regenerate? Given the massive hillsides covered in non-native forest of Acacia and Eucalyptus in that part of Portugal, I suspect not. Similarly we went to São Miguel Island in the Azores a few years ago. There is almost no native forest remaining. Rather there are massive self-seeded forests of Crytomeria japonica, Japanese cedar (actually a cypress) introduced as a good tree for timber and firewood. Unfortunately it grows too well in the Azores, and is taking over. Hillsides are also entirely covered in ginger lilies native to the Himalayas. Some places fishpole bamboo, a Chinese species frequently grown in gardens, is taking over.

I suspect that in Britain gorse tends to get burnt, whether to preserve pasture or grousemoor, so maybe it doesn't act as a nursery for that reason. We are also told that native forest fails to regenerate in the Scottish Highlands, and doubtless other areas, because of excessive grazing by deer. I can think particularly of some moorland areas where feral horses - Welsh mountain, Exmoor, etc - are grazed, so maybe that is an issue too in those areas. I have seen forest regenerate as a succession from thorn scrub in some places I know in southern England, especially after the 1987 storm flattened some areas. But maybe with the ever-increasing density of deer here too, that is being impeded.

The commentator on the bird book has one good point, at least. Whether it amounts to a rejection of the entire book, I don' t know. In a natural ecosystem, predators restrict the places that grazers go, and so facilitate forest regeneration that way. It's now well known that wolves have had that effect in Yellowstone, we've many of us seen the TV documentaries on that. But that's difficult where the density of humans is large. Here in the Chilterns there are now plenty of deer which once lynx would have fed on, but can lynx be tolerated in such a densely populated zone? Lynx will only take sheep when they are desperate. But even in the extensive wildernesses of Scandinavia, and the lynx are pretty thinly spread, it is enough to annoy the farmers. Scotland presents better opportunities for predator reinsertion. But it is densely populated in comparison to Scandinavia.

I would also be interested to read BoaF's thoughts.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Dec 29, 2021 1:05 pm

Aitch wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 1:26 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:49 am
Grumble wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 6:59 pm
For Christmas I’ve got this: Rebirding: Winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation: Restoring Britain's Wildlife https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784272191/ ... 8YFZ4SRG1J

Looks really interesting and very relevant to this thread. I did a quick text search to see if it had been mentioned before but nothing showed up. Has anyone read it already?
I have - it's a very good book. MacDonald knows his onions (and indeed birds), explains the status quo very well and has an enormous, ambitious vision for the future.

I won't post any spoilers, but I'd be interested to hear what you think when you've read it.
Would you like to comment on the long one-star review it gets?

Not being sarky, I know little about the subject and would be interested in your view.
I'm a bit limited in what I can say about the book, as my copy is in Portugal, but that review seems like a load of waffle from someone with a bee in their bonnet to me.

The first two paragraphs are basically just claiming that the existence of woodland-specialist species disproves the idea that much of the pre-agricultural temperate European landscape would be dominated by a "wooded mosaic", with both grassland and woodland. Obviously it doesn't, as such a mosaic includes patches of woodlands, including large contiguous along rivers, in uplands and other inaccessible areas, etc. The book clearly addresses this in chapter 1 (which I can read on Amazon's preview).

It's also the case that many (though by no means all) "woodland specialists" are actually quite happy in small patches of trees, or along ancient hedgerows etc. There's no need for the whole country to have been covered in dense forests for woodland specialist species to thrive, as the reviewer alleges.

AFAIAA, the evidence is pretty strong that a wooded mosaic would have typified much of the post-glacial landscape, and that the presence of large herbivores plus predators does indeed maintain such a habitat mosaic.

He is right that in the early days of the experimental reserve at Oostvaardersplassen, overgrazing led to widespread depletion of vegetation. That's because there weren't any predators. Now that people fulfil the predator niche via culling, there is indeed a mosaic of vegetation at different successional stages.

He's completely wrong that "at Knepp, Charlie’s farm, where the scrub, the main attraction to the in-migrating wild nature, developed there in the absence of herbivores, the grazing being applied later." Scrub has continued to develop in the presence of herbivores. (The book Wilding by Isabella Tree - who I assume our reviewer would refer to as "Charlie's wife" - is excellent and describes the development of Knepp in detail. I gave it a glowing review here.)

I'd already lost patience the end of the review, where he says
The third fallacy is that author has no understanding of trophic ecology, the influence of large carnivores in natural systems on the impact of herbivores in both a density and behaviourally mediated way. The absence of any consideration of trophic ecology, the interaction between carnivores, herbivores and the plant material they eat, pretty much renders this book as nonsense.
I'm absolutely certain the book discusses lynx in great detail, as well as wolves and bears. Google books suggests that they are mentioned 28, 21 and 15 times respectively. I'd also point out that the book is meant to be suggesting practical things that would work in lowland UK, which excludes reintroducing wolves and bears anyway, and where there are enough people who enjoy hunting and eating meat to create viable management alternatives. What Ivan says about predators altering herbivores' behaviour is absolutely true, but I'm 99% sure it's covered in the book. There's also a huge amount of discussion of herbivory, so I really don't know what that bloke is wanging on about.

People who really know about birds, like this reviewer at the British Trust for Ornithology, or Mark Avery (RSPB emeritus), have been largely positive about it - and most criticisms (including ones I'd make) are more about the socio-ecological aspects of his solutions than the science underpinning them.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Aitch » Wed Dec 29, 2021 5:52 pm

Thank you.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Dec 30, 2021 12:09 am

I like gorse, btw. Whatever its qualities as a nursery plant, the flowers have a lovely coconutty smell.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Dec 30, 2021 6:17 am

IvanV wrote:
Tue Dec 28, 2021 3:13 pm
Here in the Chilterns there are now plenty of deer which once lynx would have fed on, but can lynx be tolerated in such a densely populated zone?
The Chilterns are full of natural deer predators which have been inhibited from performing predation - humans.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Sciolus » Thu Dec 30, 2021 8:44 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Dec 30, 2021 12:09 am
I like gorse, btw. Whatever its qualities as a nursery plant, the flowers have a lovely coconutty smell.
Also, as the old saying says: when gorse is in flower, kissing is in season.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by jimbob » Thu Dec 30, 2021 10:28 am

I think Dean Morrison has done some work on the Knepp Estate.
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