Rewilding and habitat restoration

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:46 pm

I think the nature depletion stat comes from NHM research a year or so ago, e.g. https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/202 ... nment.html
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Tue Aug 17, 2021 1:22 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:46 pm
I think the nature depletion stat comes from NHM research a year or so ago, e.g. https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/202 ... nment.html
Awesome, thanks!
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:11 pm

I listened to an episode of the History Extra podcast on trespass earlier and it felt really relevant to this discussion. We live in a country where all the land is owned and if you don't own it, you're not allowed on it. It's led to a real disconnect with nature for the majority of people who don't own land and a lack of responsibility and accountability for those who do.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by discovolante » Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:23 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:11 pm
I listened to an episode of the History Extra podcast on trespass earlier and it felt really relevant to this discussion. We live in a country where all the land is owned and if you don't own it, you're not allowed on it. It's led to a real disconnect with nature for the majority of people who don't own land and a lack of responsibility and accountability for those who do.
You might be interested in reading The Poor Had No Lawyers by Andy Wightman (about Scotland) (but don't necessarily get into his more recent political skirmishes) and maybe also Who Owns England by Guy Shrubsole, which is nowhere near as good as TPHNL imo but it's sort of the equivalent so I thought I ought to mention it...pretty sure we have had this discussion before though!
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:28 pm

discovolante wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:23 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:11 pm
I listened to an episode of the History Extra podcast on trespass earlier and it felt really relevant to this discussion. We live in a country where all the land is owned and if you don't own it, you're not allowed on it. It's led to a real disconnect with nature for the majority of people who don't own land and a lack of responsibility and accountability for those who do.
You might be interested in reading The Poor Had No Lawyers by Andy Wightman (about Scotland) (but don't necessarily get into his more recent political skirmishes) and maybe also Who Owns England by Guy Shrubsole, which is nowhere near as good as TPHNL imo but it's sort of the equivalent so I thought I ought to mention it...pretty sure we have had this discussion before though!
It does ring a bell as I remember your cautioning against Wightman's more recent stuff! I've added his book to my ever-expanding reading list. Shrubsole's was already on it. One of the things that was mentioned in the podcast was that Scotland's trespass laws are different to England's and allow people to access private land as long as they don't damage it.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by discovolante » Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:38 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:28 pm
discovolante wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:23 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:11 pm
I listened to an episode of the History Extra podcast on trespass earlier and it felt really relevant to this discussion. We live in a country where all the land is owned and if you don't own it, you're not allowed on it. It's led to a real disconnect with nature for the majority of people who don't own land and a lack of responsibility and accountability for those who do.
You might be interested in reading The Poor Had No Lawyers by Andy Wightman (about Scotland) (but don't necessarily get into his more recent political skirmishes) and maybe also Who Owns England by Guy Shrubsole, which is nowhere near as good as TPHNL imo but it's sort of the equivalent so I thought I ought to mention it...pretty sure we have had this discussion before though!
It does ring a bell as I remember your cautioning against Wightman's more recent stuff! I've added his book to my ever-expanding reading list. Shrubsole's was already on it. One of the things that was mentioned in the podcast was that Scotland's trespass laws are different to England's and allow people to access private land as long as they don't damage it.
Right to Roam (as it's called) in Scotland is a pretty big 'thing' and I'm not really exaggerating by saying it has genuinely positively affected my quality of life. It's not that nobody abuses it but they must be a minority. It would be interesting to see some sort of comparative research into the impact of it in Scotland vs England (and Wales?)...probably out there somewhere but I haven't looked out for it. I also wonder if its existence inhibits public understanding of just how horribly concentrated and inequitable land ownership in Scotland actually is.

All that said it doesn't mean some landowners don't try and put people off, and some of the genuine restrictions on use (e.g. motor vehicles) get ignored...

Also worth noting that it does exclude private gardens to dwellings...now how you define that is a good question ;)

To be honest I'm slightly heartbroken by the most recent stuff with Wightman, although not particularly surprised, but that is an entirely different discussion...
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Aug 18, 2021 12:13 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 11:52 am
I think you'll enjoy this piece, Fishnut...
The need for rewilding is no longer a matter of debate. The UN’s leading scientists have done the maths and the task is vast and urgent.

An area the size of China needs to be returned to nature by 2030 to avoid the collapse of our life support systems. If we want to live, we need to rewild.
That is surely just scaremongering nonsense.
The UK is one of the ‘most nature depleted’ nations on the planet and we the public have shown overwhelming support for the restoration of this missing nature. So surely a rewilding revolution is all but inevitable?
The UK led the Industrial Revolution, so no suprise that that caused a swing away from nature. And given that it is in the state claimed, it seems a poor use of resources to try to unwind that far back. Why not instead take a (possibly much larger) area in some other part of the world and restore that?
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Grumble » Wed Aug 18, 2021 8:56 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 12:13 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 11:52 am
I think you'll enjoy this piece, Fishnut...
The need for rewilding is no longer a matter of debate. The UN’s leading scientists have done the maths and the task is vast and urgent.

An area the size of China needs to be returned to nature by 2030 to avoid the collapse of our life support systems. If we want to live, we need to rewild.
That is surely just scaremongering nonsense.
The UK is one of the ‘most nature depleted’ nations on the planet and we the public have shown overwhelming support for the restoration of this missing nature. So surely a rewilding revolution is all but inevitable?
The UK led the Industrial Revolution, so no suprise that that caused a swing away from nature. And given that it is in the state claimed, it seems a poor use of resources to try to unwind that far back. Why not instead take a (possibly much larger) area in some other part of the world and restore that?
Britain has its own wildlife that’s worth improving habitat for, as well as lots of migratory birds and insects so improving habitat here could have much wider benefits.
You’ve got no chutzpah, your organisational skills are lacklustre and your timekeeping is abysmal.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Wed Aug 18, 2021 10:00 am

Grumble wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 8:56 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 12:13 am

The UK led the Industrial Revolution, so no suprise that that caused a swing away from nature. And given that it is in the state claimed, it seems a poor use of resources to try to unwind that far back. Why not instead take a (possibly much larger) area in some other part of the world and restore that?
Britain has its own wildlife that’s worth improving habitat for, as well as lots of migratory birds and insects so improving habitat here could have much wider benefits.
Further to this, we are a rich country so can afford (should we choose to) to experiment and test what restoration methods work best for a wide range of habitats. And let's not forget that the land that is being rewilded won't be available for economic use in the same way - asking other (mostly poorer) countries to make that sacrifice but not making it ourselves is hypocritical. Almost half the land committed to restoration projects is in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe has committed barely anything. We need to stop treating these global problems as problems for "over there". They're problems here too, and need tackling here.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Grumble » Wed Aug 18, 2021 10:20 am

I should have mentioned migratory sea life as well, not just sea birds but fish, whales, turtles and sharks.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by IvanV » Wed Aug 18, 2021 3:47 pm

discovolante wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:38 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:28 pm
We live in a country where all the land is owned and if you don't own it, you're not allowed on it. It's led to a real disconnect with nature for the majority of people who don't own land and a lack of responsibility and accountability for those who do.

... Scotland's trespass laws are different to England's and allow people to access private land as long as they don't damage it.
Right to Roam (as it's called) in Scotland is a pretty big 'thing' and I'm not really exaggerating by saying it has genuinely positively affected my quality of life. It's not that nobody abuses it but they must be a minority.
GB is actually rather better than a lot of places. We can enter and roam over extensive areas of land, regardless of ownership. In England and Wales, there is also an extensive rights of way network of paths, bridleways and other by-ways that supplements the public roads network

Ireland is rather worse. There just isn't the concept of a rights of way network like we have in Great Britain. Go to some lovely area of wilderness like The Twelve Bens and try to go for a walk there. There are no public paths whatever. People do go for walks there, and I have done that, but it was far from easy. First I had to research what trespass I was likely to get away with, what informal paths on the ground there are, or non-path routes that are passable, for example along rocky ridges. And then climb over barbed wire fences to implement it. There are some public paths in Ireland, but really very few. Even the long distance footpaths are mostly executed along public roads, and some of the unpaved agriculture and forestry paths that exist. If you do the Wicklow Way, for example, Ireland's most walked long distance path, I think it is acknowledged to be very disappointing for precisely these reasons. The state has been considering whether, in the absence of a rights of way system, it should pay landowners to open paths.

Scotland's right to roam in principle gives you the rights to go where you like. And in some extensive parts of the pathless wilderness that are the highlands, roam is what you have to do to get around, as the traffic is insufficient to wear permanent paths. I have even taken my bicyle off piste to get from A to B in Scotland, sometimes the ground underfoot facilitates that, but often it doesn't. But in many parts of Scotland you will have difficulty crossing the terrain in the absence of some form of a path or track that enables it, together with bridges over larger watercourses, etc. Even that might not suffice. I once tried to take a track over a moor, as marked on the brand new 1:25,000 map I had bought. When I got to the edge of the wind farm that had recently rearranged the landscape up to that point, I looked ahead and tried to scope where this track went. Large forests not shown on my map didn't help. After some misadventures along false tracks, I eventually found the break in the new unmapped forest that the track should follow, but which was completely impassible due to the numerous trees which had been blown over into the break, and thick undergrowth.

I have gone walking in many other countries. If you go to a place or a region where lots of people go walking, then it is generally well provided for. It can be very difficult in other cases. So I can't entirely explain why Sicily was great and Sardinia was rubbish (for walking), they are both part of the same country, apart from the fact that it seems people go walking rather more in Sicily. The situation like in Britain of an entire national network of rights of way on foot is relatively unusual. In some countries you meet fences and tall locked gates. In others, there are few fences, and no one seems to care very much where you go. What the legal situation is, I don't know, and many best not to enquire.

Although in principle every spot of land in Britain is owned by someone, or some institution, that's not unusual. In most countries there is a default rule that the state owns everything that isn't explicitly owned by someone else. In some countries, the state owns all land, and privage land-users have to get time-limited leases from the state. The state in Britain, via its various organs (local authorities, ministries, etc) owns a lot of land, though probably less than in most countries. As a result, trusts such as the National Trust and John Muir Trust exist to protect land that might be state-owned in other countries. But most of the land in our national parks is owned by private owners for agriculture, grazing, shooting, forestry, etc, yet still we can access it.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Aug 19, 2021 1:07 am

Fishnut wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 10:00 am
Grumble wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 8:56 am
Britain has its own wildlife that’s worth improving habitat for, as well as lots of migratory birds and insects so improving habitat here could have much wider benefits.
Further to this, we are a rich country so can afford (should we choose to) to experiment and test what restoration methods work best for a wide range of habitats. And let's not forget that the land that is being rewilded won't be available for economic use in the same way - asking other (mostly poorer) countries to make that sacrifice but not making it ourselves is hypocritical. Almost half the land committed to restoration projects is in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe has committed barely anything. We need to stop treating these global problems as problems for "over there". They're problems here too, and need tackling here.
[/quote]

And also, as noted extensively upthread, rewilding has a whole set of added value locally, from water retention and reducing pollution to recreation and providing jobs. All of which are domestic policy priorities, even if the climate emergency and biodiversity declines aren't.

But then pretty obviously anybody accusing UN scientists of scaremongering is just here for tedious contrarian trolling.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Thu Aug 19, 2021 9:42 am

IvanV wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 3:47 pm
discovolante wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:38 pm
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:28 pm
We live in a country where all the land is owned and if you don't own it, you're not allowed on it. It's led to a real disconnect with nature for the majority of people who don't own land and a lack of responsibility and accountability for those who do.

... Scotland's trespass laws are different to England's and allow people to access private land as long as they don't damage it.
Right to Roam (as it's called) in Scotland is a pretty big 'thing' and I'm not really exaggerating by saying it has genuinely positively affected my quality of life. It's not that nobody abuses it but they must be a minority.
GB is actually rather better than a lot of places. We can enter and roam over extensive areas of land, regardless of ownership. In England and Wales, there is also an extensive rights of way network of paths, bridleways and other by-ways that supplements the public roads network
We have the right to roam on only 8% of the countryside and 3% of our rivers. As Right to Roam point out,
In all but one tenth of the English landscape, to wander off the footpath, to swim in a river, to explore and educate ourselves about our countryside, can leave us branded a trespasser and expelled from the land.
Wild camping is illegal in England except for parts of Dartmoor.

We have a great network of footpaths and bridleways but that's not enough. We need greater access to our countryside. Sure, there will be some areas, particularly those close to cities, where restrictions are needed to ensure that damage isn't done to crops or livestock, but for vast areas there'd be minimal impact but it would allow people to explore and engage with nature in a way that rarely happens currently.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by IvanV » Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:38 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 9:42 am
IvanV wrote:
Wed Aug 18, 2021 3:47 pm
GB is actually rather better than a lot of places. We can enter and roam over extensive areas of land, regardless of ownership. In England and Wales, there is also an extensive rights of way network of paths, bridleways and other by-ways that supplements the public roads network
We have the right to roam on only 8% of the countryside and 3% of our rivers. As Right to Roam point out,
In all but one tenth of the English landscape, to wander off the footpath, to swim in a river, to explore and educate ourselves about our countryside, can leave us branded a trespasser and expelled from the land.
Wild camping is illegal in England except for parts of Dartmoor.

We have a great network of footpaths and bridleways but that's not enough. We need greater access to our countryside. Sure, there will be some areas, particularly those close to cities, where restrictions are needed to ensure that damage isn't done to crops or livestock, but for vast areas there'd be minimal impact but it would allow people to explore and engage with nature in a way that rarely happens currently.
Clearly it can be better. But let us first appreciate that we are doing pretty well. It's not a big problem. Other places, eg Ireland, it is a huge problem. And there can be problems with over-liberal laws, as I will set out later in this post, and a risk of over-reaction to those problems.

Most wild campers think England "easily campable in practice". If you are sensible about it, most people don't care if you wildcamp. Some landowners will tell you to get off their land if they see you, just because they can and they are like that. But in Germany they will call the police. In fact, in Germany, any passing busybody will call the police if they see you wild camping on someone else's land, because such is the national character. I think Alastair Humphreys branded Germany the least campable country in Europe, as it tended to result in you being woken up by the police and taken to the station at 5am.

I want to go on to explain that there can be an issue with unrestricted wild camping. So maybe the English and Welsh situation of "formally illegal but you can generally get away with it if you are sensible about it" is quite a good solution overall. A typical English fudge that works not so badly in practice, and could be better than clear rules that are strongly enforced. And the English and Welsh way of making tresspass a civil matter, so the landowner asks you off the land, rather than calling the police and them taking you down the station, is also an improvement on the way it works in many other countries.

But first, I should mention something which I think you have recorded elsewhere, which is the very heavy-handed proposed new legislation in preparation that seeks to outlaw, in a much more extreme way, wild camping by gypsies and travellers. And that may affect the above fudge in a negative way.

So several Nordic countries have an equivalent of a freedom to roam. I'm most familiar with Iceland where it is Almannaréttur and Norway where it is Allemannsrett. When I first went to Iceland, it was clearly stated that you could wander where you want, so long as you weren't in the "homefield" immediately around a house, nor trampling someone's crops, and similarly camp where you like with those exceptions, and also some small reserves for protection of the environment.

In Iceland, Allmannaréttur made a lot of sense in the days when Iceland had little tourism, little tourist accommodation, journeys across the wilderness that went for days without encountering buildings, and most of its roads were gravel. Today with its mass tourism, fragile landscape, and risk of pollution of land and watercourses from human waste without the lively biology to clean it up naturally and quickly, there reached a point where there was too much wild camping going on, and a lack of an understanding about the difference between responsible and irresponsible wild-camping. The legal response has been, in my eyes, a little heavy handed.

The problems mainly arise with (1) locations like popular long distance walking trails, where there are too many people on foot to allow them to wild-camp willy-nilly without inevitable damage, (2) motor camping, and (3) tourists from cheaper nations (ie everywhere) just trying to avoid spending even modest campsite fees in a high cost country. The legal response has been (1) substantially expanding the reserves where you aren't allowed to camp except in designated locations and (2) excluding motor camping from the Allmannaréttur.

The blanket ban on camping in National Parks is a problem. Because national parts are often just where wild camping makes sense and you need it. Locations such as the over-popular Laugarvégurinn long distance path are one thing, because it is practical to provide the needed designated camping spots with water and waste facilities. But the vast wildernesses with only a scatter of people enjoying them are something else. The relatively recently created, and since extended, NP Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður covers about 15% of the country. There are campsites provided in a few corners of it that are heavily visited. But it is more or less impossible to go on an extended walk or bicycle ride in the park without wild camping. The usual reality is that no one is going to stop you wildcamping when they see you have no alternative. But if some jobsworth wants to move you on, your expedition can be ruined. And such jobsworths exist. It was suggested to me by one mountain hut warden that I wasn't allowed to cycle along roads that crossed the park because it would not be reasonably practical to get across in a day. (I was not going that way at that point in time, but I came back a couple of years later and rode a 3-day trajectory across the park).

Wild motorcamping can be harmless in some circumstances, but given the huge numbers of campervans now trundling around Iceland, I find it hard to know what else they could do other than ban it. Local authorities can apparently designate places where you can, but on the whole they don't. The ban on wild motor camping also tends to make the population think that all wild camping is now forbidden, and has prejudiced them against all wild campers. I have seen plenty of aggressive "no camping" signs placed there by landowners that should really read "no overnight parking" or "no motorcamping". Whilst some campsites in Iceland are lovely and well-priced and put those of other countries to shame, there are also horrible, tatty and over-priced ones without local alternatives. But my ethic when in the country is that I should only wildcamp when I don't have a practical alternative. I wildcamp because I need to, not to save a little money, and I should try to use waste facilities when provided.

Norway is somewhat different for practical reasons. They have the Allemannsrett, or still did when I was last there 20 years ago, but at least for the traveller on a bicyle, wild-camping is very hard. Most land that is not steeply sloping, covered in rocks, marsh or tall vegetation is already occupied. Because that excludes most of the country, and the shortage of any other land is what resulted in the Vikings and the Rus. So my main issue there has been finding practical places to wildcamp regardless of the legality. Frankly it is easier to wild camp in Buckinghamshire. Doubtless it is easier on foot, but they also have some heavily walked trails where it could be a problem. Even if most Norwegian footpaths are, as in the remoter Scottish Highlands, a way people go rather than a path beaten on the ground, due to the paucity of traffic. It was almost 20 years ago I last went to Norway, and I could see that they were also picking up a major problem of motorcamping, which can only have got much worse since. I did see there was talk of reducing the Allemannsrett. I don't know where it ended up, I haven't been back since.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by shpalman » Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:59 pm

Lake District in peril due to climate emergency and influx of pandemic walkers
“Everywhere is busier than I’ve ever seen it before: the roads, the car parks, the shops, cafes, but also outside on the countryside, on the paths there’s more people than I’ve ever seen before,” she said. “And the erosion is happening faster than I’ve ever seen it happen before.”

On some popular walks, 2 metre-wide paths have become “at least 12 metres wide,” Backshall said, as crowds have jostled for space and given others a wide berth because of social distancing. A section of pathway of only 300 metres can cost nearly £45,000 to fix, with helicopters sometimes required to drop in huge blocks of stone.
Social media has played a part. “Our lakes became beaches. Random waterfalls went viral on Instagram and everyone turned up,” said Tony Watson, the head of visitor services at the Lake District National Park, earlier this year.
molto tricky

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by discovolante » Thu Aug 19, 2021 11:17 pm

shpalman wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 2:59 pm
Lake District in peril due to climate emergency and influx of pandemic walkers
“Everywhere is busier than I’ve ever seen it before: the roads, the car parks, the shops, cafes, but also outside on the countryside, on the paths there’s more people than I’ve ever seen before,” she said. “And the erosion is happening faster than I’ve ever seen it happen before.”

On some popular walks, 2 metre-wide paths have become “at least 12 metres wide,” Backshall said, as crowds have jostled for space and given others a wide berth because of social distancing. A section of pathway of only 300 metres can cost nearly £45,000 to fix, with helicopters sometimes required to drop in huge blocks of stone.
Social media has played a part. “Our lakes became beaches. Random waterfalls went viral on Instagram and everyone turned up,” said Tony Watson, the head of visitor services at the Lake District National Park, earlier this year.
Well I guess you are going to have problems if you're faced with an unprecedented and rapidly emerging situation without having had the opportunity to create infrastructure and rules to manage it properly.

(Or you could try this
IMG-20210815-WA0038.jpg
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IMG-20210815-WA0041.jpg
IMG-20210815-WA0041.jpg (304.91 KiB) Viewed 483 times
but I digress)

Anyway I am not sure some kind of botched up rule that isnt really enforced is actually a good thing if you don't want it to be some exclusive thing only for people who know what they can and can't get away with (responding to ivanv).
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Aug 19, 2021 11:31 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 9:42 am
discovolante wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:38 pm

Right to Roam (as it's called) in Scotland is a pretty big 'thing'
We have the right to roam on only 8% of the countryside and 3% of our rivers. As Right to Roam point out,
As pointed out in the bit you quoted, there is a general right to roam in Scotland. The 8% is of England.

At https://www.righttoroam.org.uk it says:
97% of rivers are off limits to the public
but the link points to a page which says
British Canoeing believes that there is a strong case to demonstrate an existing public right of navigation (PRN) on all navigable rivers.

Until such time that the law is clarified, either in court, or through legislation being enacted, British Canoeing will campaign on behalf of the public, for fair, shared, sustainable open access on water.
which is rather different from "off limits to the public". righttoroam.org.uk do not seem to be a reliable source of information.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by discovolante » Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:24 am

Pretty sure she was talking about England specifically, it was others who started conflating it with the whole of Great Britain and then comparing it with other countries...
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Fri Aug 20, 2021 8:36 am

discovolante wrote:
Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:24 am
Pretty sure she was talking about England specifically, it was others who started conflating it with the whole of Great Britain and then comparing it with other countries...
I was. I was talking specifically in relation to the podcast I linked to which has the very prominent blurb,
Nick Hayes discusses the contested history of land ownership in England, from William the Conqueror to the Kinder trespass.
However, I now realise that I made a mistake in expecting anyone to actually click on that link before replying which is entirely my fault.
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Fishnut
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Tue Aug 24, 2021 10:06 pm

I'm hesitant to post this in this thread but it seems the least worst option. My hesitation comes from the fact I'm not really sure this counts as habitat restoration, even though it's mass tree planting. Or, it was. Now it's a massive tree graveyard. My first impressions are that it was likely always an unsustainable vanity project, and the fact that less than 10 years after the area was first planted it was chosen as the perfect location for "the world’s largest shopping centre" and then, after that project stalled, for a new city, only reinforces that view. Still, I'm sure someone made a lot of money which is really all that matters.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Aug 25, 2021 11:54 pm

IvanV wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:33 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:16 pm
I've been painting quite a rosy picture of the science.

Here is an excellent essay on the politics and economics, in a UK context, where the picture is considerably less rosy. Carver and Convery argue that, having been catapulted into the limelight, "rewilding" has increasingly been co-opted as a buzzword and diluted as a concept, essentially being used to greenwash the same old failed neoliberal model of piecemeal, heavily-managed conservation:
Many thanks for those interesting and thoughtful posts.

I read about this Russian "rewilding" project a while ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene_Park I wondered what you thought about it. Is it bonkers? If it's not bonkers, is it being unfortunately limited by being underfunded? Or what?

To me, 16 sq km seems like a very small area given the vast land areas up there, and the typical large range needs, and often migratory habits, of large animals in such habitats. I was entertained to learn that some of the released creatures escaped from the reserve pretty quickly and are presumably populating the wider area, if they were able to survive.
A paper has just come out looking at Pleistocene Park and a couple of other Siberian rewilding sites. I've not had time to read it in detail yet, but it is open access https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-92079-1

In general, the effects they found were small. They suggest several reasons for this.

-as you say, the areas involved are quite small. They are also fenced. This limits the ability of herbivores to create a gradient of pressure.
-numbers of individuals are therefore often very small, in some cases one 1 of a particular species, and the diversity of species used is low. Some species have more impact than others - pure grazers are somewhat underwhelming, whereas browsers like bison have greater impact by killing off some trees.
- there's the usual problem in ecology of "everything is connected to everything else", where trying to understand the role of a particular species is like trying to understand one thread in a tapestry*. There's little-to-no independence of biological and ecological covariates, which makes finding good controls very challenging.

That said, it does sound like a trial involving a large group of bison over a large area could have interesting results. Funding is likely to be a limiting factor, but maybe these results are waggly-eyebrows enough to help in that direction.

*Perhaps. I realised after I wrote that sentence that I don't actually know how tapestries work in much detail ;)
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Aug 26, 2021 12:00 am

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Aug 24, 2021 10:06 pm
I'm hesitant to post this in this thread but it seems the least worst option. My hesitation comes from the fact I'm not really sure this counts as habitat restoration, even though it's mass tree planting. Or, it was. Now it's a massive tree graveyard. My first impressions are that it was likely always an unsustainable vanity project, and the fact that less than 10 years after the area was first planted it was chosen as the perfect location for "the world’s largest shopping centre" and then, after that project stalled, for a new city, only reinforces that view. Still, I'm sure someone made a lot of money which is really all that matters.
If nothing else, it's a useful example of why mass tree planting is generally not super helpful. The trees need to be cared for over s long period of time, but funding evaporates after whatever bigwigs involved have had their photo-op with a spade.

"Do nothing for nature" is quite a good slogan, but it's in desperate need of an effective method of visual communication.

(That's a bit different to the thread from Alex Lees you posted above, which is more about maintaining particular species in particular, already heavily managed, landscapes. That's 90% a management issue. But as scale increases, the wiser a hands-off approach becomes. Things will naturally happen somewhere, and you only need to get involved if you want to determine where that somewhere is.)
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by IvanV » Thu Aug 26, 2021 12:23 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Aug 25, 2021 11:54 pm
*Perhaps. I realised after I wrote that sentence that I don't actually know how tapestries work in much detail ;)
Weaving is one of that odd selection of things I have taken an interest in, from my time in Bolivia. Tapestry is a relatively simple way creating a woven image, in terms of the construction of the fabric, it is about as simple as it could be. At the same time, it is one of the techniques that requires the greatest skill and effort in its creation. Mediaeval tapestries were among the most costly items a mediaeval oligarch could own. A bit like painting. Smearing paint on canvas is a very simple method of creating an image on a surface, in terms of its construction. But requiring very considerable skill in execution. Indeed it is often said that tapestry is like painting in thread.

Andean woven fabrics are rather more complex in construction than tapestry. But probably lace is the most complex kind of fabric, in terms of its construction.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » 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.

It seems particularly attractive compared with more damaging activity on marginal uplands, like grouse shooting, which covers ~4% of England but according to the industry body "creates 42,500 work days a year and is responsible for over 1,500 full-time posts. Of these, 700 are directly involved in grouse moor management, with a further 820 jobs in related services and industries." Doesn't seem like a particularly great reward for losing blanket bogs and birds of prey. Though I'm not surprised that something with mass appeal like rewilding would have wider benefits than something elitist like grouse shooting.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by IvanV » 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.

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.

People wanted to see red kites, in the days before you could reliably see them simply by driving along the M40. So there is this red kite feeding centre near Rhaeadr. That didn't really appeal to me. In any case, I spotted them from time to time while out on the bicycle in mid-Wales, in the days before I could just look out of the window to see them. Nor did I fancy the arrangement in the suburbs of Brașov, Romania, where you can reliably see bears raiding dustbins at dusk. If that's still running - it was when I was there. Apparently wolves will also raid bins if desperate. There's a BBC wildlife doc showing a wolf doing just that also in Brașov, which the guy I mention below helped to put together. But in general people rarely notice as they tend to be solitary, do it in the dusk before dawn, and look very like a german shepherd dog in such conditions.

I stayed at this Romanian wildlife tour specialist centre in Zărnești about 12 years ago. The expert wildlife guide there Dan Marin told us he had never seen a lynx in the wild, even though Romania has much the largest population of any country west of the Russian border. (Though I see they now claim to offer lynx tracking tours, but don't elaborate - maybe that's radio-tracking.) He had also only rarely seen a wolf. In the day, they are mostly asleep somewhere deep in the forest. Though occasionally you can find them wandering around in the day, and he had on occasion seem them on the walk he took us on, including an interaction between bear and wolves. He did show us some fresh wolf and bear footprints. The people who do regularly encounter wolves are shepherds trying to look after their stock overnight at summer pasture camps. Though as it is always pitch dark at the time, seeing them is another issue. The wolf footprints we saw were close to a shepherd's camp. Fortunately there were plenty of amphibians, orchids, insects and birds to entertain us.

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