Rewilding and habitat restoration

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Fishnut
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Tue May 04, 2021 6:01 pm

Just came across this talk at the end of the month title The Peak District: Nature Impoverished which I thought might be of interest to some here. It's free thought you can donate if you have the spare cash.
The Peak District is one of the natural treasures of the UK, yet it is greatly degraded and impoverished. As Dr Alexander Lees notes, he sees more birds in the centre of Manchester than on Kinder Scout.

Wild Justice is at the centre of national efforts to tackle the underlying cause of this issue, which is also a significant factor in the UK ranking 189th of 218 countries for the State of Nature, the management of land for driven grouse shooting and other forms of hunting.

It could be so different. Instead of travelling abroad to see charismatic wildlife, Britons could be coming to the Peak District instead to see golden eagles, pine martens, maybe even one day lynx. This event will explore the problems, the causes and the possibilities for a rich, healthy, flourishing Peak, working for surrounding communities, wildlife and the planet - and identifying what individuals can do to lead the change.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by jimbob » Tue May 04, 2021 7:10 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 6:01 pm
Just came across this talk at the end of the month title The Peak District: Nature Impoverished which I thought might be of interest to some here. It's free thought you can donate if you have the spare cash.
The Peak District is one of the natural treasures of the UK, yet it is greatly degraded and impoverished. As Dr Alexander Lees notes, he sees more birds in the centre of Manchester than on Kinder Scout.

Wild Justice is at the centre of national efforts to tackle the underlying cause of this issue, which is also a significant factor in the UK ranking 189th of 218 countries for the State of Nature, the management of land for driven grouse shooting and other forms of hunting.

It could be so different. Instead of travelling abroad to see charismatic wildlife, Britons could be coming to the Peak District instead to see golden eagles, pine martens, maybe even one day lynx. This event will explore the problems, the causes and the possibilities for a rich, healthy, flourishing Peak, working for surrounding communities, wildlife and the planet - and identifying what individuals can do to lead the change.
It's so clearly degraded, especially the grouse moors
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Grumble » Tue May 04, 2021 7:14 pm

Funnily enough Kinder Scout itself is miles better than it has been for years, lots of regeneration of the sphagnum moss going on. But it’s a small area of regeneration in a sea of grouse moors.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 05, 2021 11:34 am

Looks like a good talk! I've followed Alexander Lees on twitter for a while now, he seems like a level-headed type.

Came here to post another couple of snippets of UK rewilding news. First up:
WildCard is a new campaign group with a big goal: to rewild half the UK, starting with land owned by the Royal Family, the Church of England, and Oxford and Cambridge colleges.

The group is planning to launch in two weeks with an open letter, which is currently gathering signatures. The small team – comprising campaigners, artists and ecologists – then plans to pressure these institutions to rethink their land management through a series of grassroots actions.

The aim to rewild 50 percent of the UK is a long-term goal – the campaign doesn’t propose a deadline – but is no less ambitious for that. For comparison, Rewilding Britain aims to create “core rewilding areas” across just five percent of the country. Prime minister Boris Johnson recently pledged to protect, but not rewild, 30 percent of England’s land by 2030.

The Royal Family, the Church and Oxbridge are among the largest landowners in the UK, together controlling hundreds of thousands of acres of land. This makes them an obvious target for rewilding, an approach which seeks to return natural ecological processes to large tracts of the natural world.
https://www.inkcapjournal.co.uk/inside- ... to-rewild/


Along with some reviews of the (considerably less ambitious) current UK policy:
Earlier this week, the Telegraph reported that Boris Johnson had tasked officials with setting up a rewilding task force to gauge appetite for returning creatures like wolves and lynx to Britain. “Stakeholders in the taskforce will help draw up plans to bring back lost species, and discuss any issues landowners may have that need to be mitigated before any scheme goes ahead,” according to Helena Horton, who wrote the article. Defra published a blog denying the story – and then promptly deleted it, with environment minister Zac Goldsmith apologising to Horton. Defra subsequently told ENDS that it intends to establish “a stakeholder forum specifically looking at species reintroductions” later this year. The notion prompted a strong reaction among some people; in the Farmers Guardian, George Dunn, head of the Tenant Farmers Association, said that the government should focus on issues like fly tipping and dog attacks on livestock rather than “some misguided idea about returning Britain to a sort of medieval wasteland”.
I don't know how they always manage to dig up some farmer who sounds like an arse-backwards dipshit. I'm sure the majority are well aware of the biodiversity crisis and would love to be empowered to stop exacerbating it on the land they manage.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Woodchopper » Wed May 05, 2021 11:49 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:34 am
I don't know how they always manage to dig up some farmer who sounds like an arse-backwards dipshit.
They're not too hard to find.
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:34 am
I'm sure the majority are well aware of the biodiversity crisis and would love to be empowered to stop exacerbating it on the land they manage.
Just so long as someone pays them. Complaining about the reintroduction of wolves or lynx is an early move to get more compensation.

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 05, 2021 11:59 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:49 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:34 am
I'm sure the majority are well aware of the biodiversity crisis and would love to be empowered to stop exacerbating it on the land they manage.
Just so long as someone pays them. Complaining about the reintroduction of wolves or lynx is an early move to get more compensation.
To be honest I think that's kind of fair enough. Societal harms should be penalized (or prohibited), and societal benefits rewarded, in a way that recognises there's a lot more to managing land than just growing food/commodities.

Most farmers aren't super-wealthy people; they're rural workers, and if we want them to change how they work in part to mop up problems created elsewhere, give 'em some cash.

I'd far rather the public purse paid wolf compensation than beef subsidies.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 05, 2021 8:01 pm

Perhaps more up Fishnut's alley - the Marine Conservation Society have teamed up with Rewilding Britain for a report on how "rewilding" marine ecosystems can contribute to the UK's carbon-sequestration needs:
Globally, rewilding key blue carbon stores such as seagrass beds, saltmarshes and mangroves could deliver carbon dioxide mitigation amounting to 1.83 billion tonnes. That’s 5% of the emissions savings we need to make globally. This figure doesn’t include the enormous quantities of carbon stored in fish and other marine life;  coral reefs, seaweeds and shellfish beds; or the vast stores of carbon in our seabed sediments.

Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive: "Allowing a rich rainbow of underwater habitats and their sealife to recover offers huge opportunities for tackling the nature and climate crises, and for benefiting people’s livelihoods,”

“From Dornoch Firth to Lyme Bay, inspiring projects are leading the way by restoring critically important seagrass meadows, kelp forests and oyster beds. Combined with the exclusion of bottom towed trawling and dredging, such initiatives offer hope and a blueprint for bringing our precious seas back to health.”
I've not read it (though I have downloaded it and saved it to my aspirational pdf graveyard).

https://www.mcsuk.org/news/our-new-repo ... ur-waters/


They do give definitions of rewilding in the full report, both in general and applied to the marine environment:
Rewilding Britain defines rewilding as follows:
“Rewilding is the large-scale restoration of ecosystems to the point where nature is allowed to take
care of itself. Rewilding seeks to reinstate natural processes and, where appropriate, missing
species – allowing them to shape the land and sea and the habitats within.

Rewilding encourages a balance between people and the rest of nature so that we thrive together.
It can provide opportunities for communities to diversify and create nature-based economies; for
living systems to provide the ecological functions on which we all depend; and for people to
reconnect with wild nature"

Marine rewilding is the same idea applied to coasts and seas. In some areas, that will mean
ceasing all harmful activity, including damaging commercial fishing methods, such as bottom
trawling, aggregate extraction, dredging or oil or gas exploitation and allowing the ecosystem to
recover. In others, it may mean giving recovery a helping hand, for example through active
restoration; reseeding an area with seagrass or returning lost species such as oysters.

Our ocean is in dire need of rewilding. Globally, only 55.2 million km 2 out of a total area of 500
million km 2 – just 13% – is today considered “marine wilderness” 30 . Britain’s seas were once home
to some of the world’s largest creatures, including blue, fin, sei, humpback and sperm whales, but
these are rare visitors today. Highly industrialised fishing techniques have seriously impacted
commercial fish species populations, while bottom trawling and dredging have ploughed up once
vibrant seabeds.

So this is interesting. I've generally thought of "rewilding" as being a kind of restoration that involves a relaxation of anthropogenic management. For instance, if you have a grassland habitat - perhaps intensively grazed pastures - you rewild by laying off the fertilizer and reducing cattle density. But if a habitat is completely absent, as seagrass beds generally are, I've always thought of that as "restoration" rather than "rewilding", because you're replacing a lost habitat rather than altering management.

The usage here seems to viewing returning areas to wilderness as an end objective, with restoration one possible tool to be used to achieve that goal. I can see the attraction of that perspective. On the other hand, "wilderness" is an extremely controversial topic, e.g. a lot of people seem to worry that trying to restore a "wilderness" would mean excluding people from traditional societies practising artisanal methods (though I've never encountered a single actual conservationist who wants to do so - quite the opposite).
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Sciolus » Wed May 05, 2021 8:17 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:34 am
Along with some reviews of the (considerably less ambitious) current UK policy:
Earlier this week, the Telegraph reported that Boris Johnson had tasked officials with setting up a rewilding task force to gauge appetite for returning creatures like wolves and lynx to Britain. “Stakeholders in the taskforce will help draw up plans to bring back lost species, and discuss any issues landowners may have that need to be mitigated before any scheme goes ahead,” according to Helena Horton, who wrote the article. Defra published a blog denying the story – and then promptly deleted it, with environment minister Zac Goldsmith apologising to Horton. Defra subsequently told ENDS that it intends to establish “a stakeholder forum specifically looking at species reintroductions” later this year. The notion prompted a strong reaction among some people; in the Farmers Guardian, George Dunn, head of the Tenant Farmers Association, said that the government should focus on issues like fly tipping and dog attacks on livestock rather than “some misguided idea about returning Britain to a sort of medieval wasteland”.
Introducing two or three charismatic species is far less interesting and valuable than proper rewilding, by which I mean restoring entire habitats and networks of habitats. I suppose it could be an enabler ("we can't introduce wolves until there enough habitat for them"), but it feels much more like a distraction tactic (let's give lots of publicity to studies of something that is easy but probably won't actually happen, rather than trying to do something that will annoy our funders but would be valuable if we made the effort).

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 05, 2021 8:26 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 8:17 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 11:34 am
Along with some reviews of the (considerably less ambitious) current UK policy:
Earlier this week, the Telegraph reported that Boris Johnson had tasked officials with setting up a rewilding task force to gauge appetite for returning creatures like wolves and lynx to Britain. “Stakeholders in the taskforce will help draw up plans to bring back lost species, and discuss any issues landowners may have that need to be mitigated before any scheme goes ahead,” according to Helena Horton, who wrote the article. Defra published a blog denying the story – and then promptly deleted it, with environment minister Zac Goldsmith apologising to Horton. Defra subsequently told ENDS that it intends to establish “a stakeholder forum specifically looking at species reintroductions” later this year. The notion prompted a strong reaction among some people; in the Farmers Guardian, George Dunn, head of the Tenant Farmers Association, said that the government should focus on issues like fly tipping and dog attacks on livestock rather than “some misguided idea about returning Britain to a sort of medieval wasteland”.
Introducing two or three charismatic species is far less interesting and valuable than proper rewilding, by which I mean restoring entire habitats and networks of habitats. I suppose it could be an enabler ("we can't introduce wolves until there enough habitat for them"), but it feels much more like a distraction tactic (let's give lots of publicity to studies of something that is easy but probably won't actually happen, rather than trying to do something that will annoy our funders but would be valuable if we made the effort).
Yes - wolves should be the cherry on the cake, not the starting point.

Any sensible taskforce would of course recognise that wolves need large networks of restored habitat areas, preferably far from people - as you say - but this one is being called by Boris Johnson so f.ck knows. It could well be a dead cat lynx thing, like all his stupid infrastructure ideas, and of course Downing Street may well rewrite the entire report before it's published anyway, rendering the whole exercise worthless.

I was mainly amused to see yet more evidence of the internal dysfunction of UK government - the PM can't even be bothered to keep the Environment Minister up-to-date on rewilding taskforces.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by basementer » Wed May 05, 2021 8:37 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 8:26 pm
wolves should be the cherry on the cake
Surreal comment of the day.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 14, 2021 12:19 pm

A couple of interesting case studies that have passed across my newsfeed recently.

Saltmarsh rewilding at Cwm Ivy, in south wales. The old sea wall was breached by a storm, and rather than spend millions repairing it to protect some pasture, the National Trust have allowed natural tidal processes to reclaim the site. Seven years later, it's a functional saltmarsh ecosystem.

This kind of "managed realignment" is going to be extremely commonplace. In areas with low-lying farmland next to the sea, it simply won't be worth upgrading sea defences to cope with rising sea levels, so they'll either be abandoned or breached deliberately. Closer to populated areas, these kinds of natural wetlands are increasingly forming part of the Environment Agency's coastal flood defence strategy: hard infrastructure just shifts floodwaters around, whereas marshes can absorb and store that water and energy, protecting settlements. Expect to see pockets of coastal commons, parkland etc. near to cities like Southampton and Portsmouth turned into marshes.

The article also includes some treatment of local residents' views.


Also in Wales, Aberglasney Gardens have restored meadows by drastically reducing the amount of mowing they do. To be honest, I don't think it makes much sense to call this rewilding at all, as the habitat is still determined by humans mowing it, with a wide variety of different mowing regimes to create a variety of different flowering communities. It's basically stochastic gardening. But it is very pretty, and will have benefits for soil carbon and wildlife, so good on 'em. I'd call it "restoration", though.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 14, 2021 12:26 pm

Taking a global perspective, forests are coming back in a big way where given the chance:
An area of forest the size of France has regrown naturally across the world in the last 20 years, a study suggests.

The restored forests have the potential to soak up the equivalent of 5.9 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide - more than the annual emissions of the US, according to conservation groups.

A team led by WWF used satellite data to build a map of regenerated forests.

Forest regeneration involves restoring natural woodland through little or no intervention.

This ranges from doing nothing at all to planting native trees, fencing off livestock or removing invasive plants.

William Baldwin-Cantello of WWF said natural forest regeneration is often "cheaper, richer in carbon and better for biodiversity than actively planted forests".

But he said regeneration cannot be taken for granted - "to avoid dangerous climate change we must both halt deforestation and restore natural forests".

"Deforestation still claims millions of hectares every year, vastly more than is regenerated," Mr Baldwin-Cantello said.

"To realise the potential of forests as a climate solution, we need support for regeneration in climate delivery plans and must tackle the drivers of deforestation, which in the UK means strong domestic laws to prevent our food causing deforestation overseas."
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-57065612
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 14, 2021 12:32 pm

Finally, a peer-reviewed report from the British Ecological Society into "nature based solutions" (bean-counter-friendly terminology, like "ecosystem services", but basically referring to protecting and restoring habitats) to the climate and biodiversity crises:
“When thinking of NbS, tree cover and woodland restoration tend to get the limelight, but, importantly, this report shows how an NbS approach can apply to a wide variety of ecosystems,” the researchers said. These efforts would need to be supported by a widespread reduction in emissions, and “strong government funding”, they added.

The policy recommendations were released ahead of two crucial UN summits – the biodiversity Cop15 and climate Cop26 conferences – later this year, where the next decade of environment targets will be agreed.
The report goes through various habitats in detail, weighing the evidence for the relative importance and condition of each. For instance:
Peatlands are the most carbon-dense terrestrial ecosystem, covering about 10% of UK land. However, most are degraded, which means they are turning from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. Estimates suggest UK peatlands could be emitting the equivalent of 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, half the amount released by the agricultural sector.

Rewetting and revegetating degraded peatland could stop these emissions and create biodiversity benefits for wildlife, including carnivorous plants, rare birds and insects. “If the UK is serious about cutting its carbon emissions, it must get serious about its peatlands. It is as simple as that,” said Dr Christian Dunn from Bangor University
There are 40,000 scraps of ancient woodland left across the UK and it is particularly important they are protected. There is opportunity to expand them by planting around the outskirts with native trees, or allowing natural colonisation where possible, increasing biodiversity and resilience to climate breakdown.
The way animals are farmed should also change. Stocking densities should be decreased and rotational, “mob”, or mixed grazing systems should be encouraged, using a variety of herbivores (such as sheep, cattle, horses and goats). This could increase diversity among grasses and sequester carbon, the report says. Creating more ponds, re-wiggling rivers, encouraging margins around fields, and creating space for agroforestry are also solutions.
Restoring marine habitats such as salt marshes and seagrass will also contribute to climate crisis mitigation, increase biodiversity and improve protection from storms.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... report-aoe
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri May 21, 2021 11:33 am

Interesting report into local councils' rewilding plans, based on FOI requests by journalists at Inkcap. About a quarter of councils have plans for 'rewilding' on public lands. As most of those lands are fairly intensively managed things like parks and farms, there's definitely scope for some positive work here. https://www.inkcapjournal.co.uk/council ... g-england/


Also a bit on definitions used, which Fishnut might find interesting:
A few councils had adopted definitions from external sources, including an academic paper, Rewilding Britain, the dictionary and an article from British Wildlife. Others had composed their own definitions, sometimes explicitly shaped to their local contexts. As Hertfordshire County Council put it: “'Rewilding' in parts of the county will not look the same as 'rewilding' in the Outer Hebrides.”

Islington Council also referenced the flexibility of the concept:

“The term rewilding originally referred to large-scale restoration of ecosystems with the aim of minimal human management so that natural processes shape the landscape and its habitats… Recently, however, the term rewilding has made its way into the public domain as a term that is used to describe any kind of wildlife friendly natural habitat creation, for example creating a wildflower meadow in a park or planting a small area of new woodland.”

Those that provided their own definitions variously referred to “restoring natural processes”, “allowing nature to reclaim a previously managed area” and “protecting natural habitats so that native species can thrive”. Several councils referenced the reintroduction of native species; a few mentioned the return of predators; Harrow was the lone council to bring up wolves (although with no intention of reintroducing them).
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Fishnut » Fri May 21, 2021 11:44 am

Thanks :) I saw the report on Twitter but haven't got round to taking a look yet. Have shifted it to the top of my reading list.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Grumble » Sat May 22, 2021 9:21 am

I’ve been encouraged by the increase in wildflower meadows in parks I visit. I’ve had a better effort this year at planting wildflowers, but yet to see them come up.

To negate all this next door but one have taken up their grass and put down a plastic lawn. Plastic lawns have become fashionable, even as people (hopefully not the same people, but who knows) worry about microplastics and bees.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Sciolus » Sat May 22, 2021 7:44 pm

I try to keep my garden neatish for the sake of the neighbours, but there are times when I'm too lazy it's too wet to mow the lawn for a few weeks so it grows up rather high. At the moment I've got dandelions, daisies, a few buttercups, cuckoo flower, hawkweed, masses of thyme-leaved speedwell, various interesting grasses and mosses, herb robert, herb bennet, and of course loads of cat sh.t. Later I should get clover and self-heal (might need to time the mowing right).

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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Jun 02, 2021 8:50 pm

More from Inkcap - an investigation into road verge policies.

Which might sound trivial (and it is, compared with say agricultural policy), but (1) verges are about 1.2% of Great Britain by area, which isn't trivial, and (2) they are by their nature very handy for connecting up different areas, joining 'meta-population' of organisms that don't dispersal well, like many wildflowers such as orchids, and a lot of invertebrates, together.

The other nice thing is that by not mowing as frequently councils can actually save money, though some are instead hiring ecologists to plan things, or designating sites etc., which costs a bit.

Anyway, a nice resource to find out what your council is doing, with examples of best practice to send them if they're still spending your tax money to kill flowers.

https://www.inkcapjournal.co.uk/how-is- ... de-verges/
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:38 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 7:44 pm
I try to keep my garden neatish for the sake of the neighbours, but there are times when I'm too lazy it's too wet to mow the lawn for a few weeks so it grows up rather high. At the moment I've got dandelions, daisies, a few buttercups, cuckoo flower, hawkweed, masses of thyme-leaved speedwell, various interesting grasses and mosses, herb robert, herb bennet, and of course loads of cat sh.t. Later I should get clover and self-heal (might need to time the mowing right).
Very nice!

I was quite impressed with how not-mowing improved the lawn at the house I grew up in. I started getting properly interested in nature about the same time I was old enough to be in charge of mowing the lawn (12ish IIRC) and entirely coincidentally wanted to try wildlife gardening*. Within a few years I'd turned the previous occupants' pointless green lawn back into the chalk downland community it had been in the 1960s, with knapweeds and birdsfoots trefoil and black medic and pyramidal orchids and white helleborine. More hedgehog sh.t than cat sh.t too.

Even my poor mum had to agree it was much nicer in the end - you just have to perservere through an awkward straggly stage. A bit like growing a beard.


*this wasn't entirely laziness - I dug a big pond by hand, and soon found the spot I chose was full of builder's rubble. Digging up huge chunks of reinforced concrete wasn't a lazy option. But we ended up with loads of newts and a few species of Odonata so it was worth it.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:55 pm

For those interested in the carbon-capture potential of habitat restoration (currently the only CCS technology proven to work at scale!), you're in luck - the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management have a new report out on exactly that :D

Some choice points from the executive summary:
C in soils is fundamental and globally 3-5 times more is stored in soils than vegetation and 2-3 times more in soils than in the atmosphere. The creation and persistence of soil organic carbon (SOC) is critical for C capture, which involves complex biological and biochemical interactions, depends on the C:N ratios and varies with environmental factors.

30% of the UK terrestrial C is in High Value Conservation habitats on only 20% of the land area, with more in Scotland where peat and podzolic soils are more extensive.
C is lost when soils are damaged or disturbed and habitats lost. Higher losses than any sequestration rates occur from heavily drained peatlands, but losses occur when any habitat is degraded or lost. Ploughed arable land also overall loses C annually.

Carbon sequestration can be restored and increased. Although over time new woodland can accumulate more carbon than most other habitats, it usually takes 10-30 years to reach a positive carbon budget and decades for C stocks to accumulate. Other habitats show near equivalent C sequestration rates and sometimes more rapidly than can woodland. A mixture of habitats is therefore needed in the most appropriate conditions, rather than a dependency on planting woodland.

Ancient and old growth woodlands can sequestrate carbon over hundreds of years with no obvious limit. Restoring and maintaining existing woodlands with minimum management will optimise the C budget over time. Creating new woods can lose more carbon than they sequester, at least for some decades. Natural colonisation, preferably on clay soils which are arable or disturbed already, with supplementary planting of ‘missing’ species, minimising soil and habitat disturbance or damage, using a range of native broadleaved species and minimising management would all result in the best C store over the longest period.
https://cieem.net/resource/carbon-and-e ... re-carbon/

Overall the report suggests that the quickest and most efficient habitats to restore would be wetlands and neutral grasslands. The UK is going to have to do a lot of that anyway, as defending the entire rural coast from sea-level rise is too expensive. There seems to be growing interest in rewetting floodplains too, as a flood-risk mitigation tool.

The CCS potential of those habitats, generally with little to no ongoing management needed (perhaps a deer-proof fence for woodland) means that there are big synergistic gains to be had. Farming carbon might even prove to be more economic than stuff like maize or sheep in the post-Brexit dearth of EU subsidies (and possible carbon market).

The focus on planting woodland, I think, has two sources. One is the existing forestry industry, who pretend monoculture plantations are in some way "green" even though they intend to clearfell them in a couple of decades. Two is the way people want to be seen to be "doing something" - loads of saplings going in holes is a much better photo-op than breaching a sea wall or culling deer and then watching the plants grow.

The science, however, says that planting new woodlands is rarely the best option, and can be actively harmful, so it'll pay to keep an eye on pseudo-scientific greenwashing arguments being used to promote tree-planting.
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:46 pm

Nice report from December's joint workshop of the IPCC and IPBES (the equivalent body for biodiversity), in which they argue that the crises in biodiversity and the climate are inter-related, and so policymakers should stop treating them in separate silos in order to maximise co-benefits.

There was some general coverage in the Graun and elsewhere, but I also thought it was worth pulling out a couple of quotes from the synopsis relevant to this thread, particular the "why" of habitat restoration:
9. The area of intact and effectively protected land and ocean required to meet the three objectives of a habitable climate, self-sustaining biodiversity, and a good quality of life is as yet not well established. This area likely varies spatially, among biomes and with local contexts, but is substantially larger than at present, with global estimates ranging from 30% to 50% of both land and ocean surface areas. Sufficient intact habitat in critical carbon-rich ecosystems would provide substantial benefits for climate mitigation, but novel and inclusive approaches will be necessary to avoid potential risks to food security and to assure other benefit flows from nature. Maintaining or restoring 20% of native habitat in ‘scapes inhabited/altered by humans may provide such opportunities, thus contributing to global climate and biodiversity targets, while also generating multiple benefits, through nature-based solutions and other ecosystem-based approaches.
10. Actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges such as climate mitigation and adaptation are often referred to as nature-based solutions. Nature-based solutions (NbS) can play an important role in climate mitigation, but the extent is debated, and they can only be effective with ambitious reductions in all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Nature-based solutions can be most effective when planned for longevity and not narrowly focussed on rapid carbon sequestration. Estimates of potential contributions of nature-based solutions to climate mitigation vary widely and some proposed actions such as large-scale afforestation or bioenergy plantations may violate an important tenet of nature-based solutions – namely that they should simultaneously provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits.
12. Avoiding and reversing the loss and degradation of carbon- and species-rich ecosystems on land and in the ocean is of highest importance for combined biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation actions with large adaptation co-benefits. Significant reductions in the destruction and degradation of forest ecosystems; non-forest terrestrial ecosystems such as wetlands and peatlands, grasslands and savannas; and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and deep water and polar blue carbon habitats can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land- and sea-use change and maintain large carbon sinks if properly managed.
And here's the biggy (my bold):
13. Restoring carbon- and species-rich ecosystems on land and in the ocean is also highly effective for both climate change mitigation and biodiversity, with large adaptation co-benefits. Ecosystem restoration provides opportunities for co-benefits for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation, which are maximized if restoration occurs in priority areas for both goals. Restoration is among the cheapest and rapidly implemented nature-based climate mitigation measures. Ecosystem restoration also enhances resilience of biodiversity in the face of climate change and provides multiple nature's contributions to people such as regulating floods, enhancing water quality, reducing soil erosion and ensuring pollination. Ecosystem restoration can also provide multiple social benefits such as creation of jobs and income, especially if implemented taking into consideration the needs and access rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Restoration with a variety of native species ensures ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change and has benefits for biodiversity, but also relies on novel species assemblages to match future climatic conditions.
In other words, restoration is fast, cheap and works to mitigate climate risk, improve climate resilience, and can provide a lot of other benefits. It's by far the best CCS technology we have.

They do note that conservation/preservation is a higher priority for reducing biodiversity loss, and the reducing emissions is still hugely necessary for the climate, but ecological restoration can make a valuable contribution to both.

Report at https://www.ipbes.net/events/launch-ipb ... ate-change
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Re: Rewilding and habitat restoration

Post by IvanV » Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:30 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 12:26 pm
Taking a global perspective, forests are coming back in a big way where given the chance:
An area of forest the size of France has regrown naturally across the world in the last 20 years, a study suggests.
Unfortunately secondary regrowth forest is often not like the original forest. Especially in warmer places where the original forest is highly diverse, the regrowth is generally of limited diversity, even after 100 years of non-interference. In some places, it is heavily modified by invasive species. Typically it lacks the diversity of original forest because there aren't mechanisms for many of the species to get their seeds into the right places. There aren't any remaining standing trees of that species near enough. Wind-spread species common in cooler climes are less common. Or the animals that it depends on for dispersion are gone. Or something eats all the seedlings (eg possums prevent kauri regeneration in mainland NZ - there are many young kauris on possum-free Great Barrier Island, but saw none on the mainland.) Regeneration of something like the original in shorter time periods is easier in some cool temperate forests that weren't so diverse in the first place, and don't have such diverse mechanisms of propagation. But even in Britain "ancient woodland" is woodland that hasn't been clearcut since 1600. It's even worse other places - in Czech (I go there a lot because my wife is Czech), although very much more wooded than Britain, it is mostly intensively managed. The remnants of ancient woodland are tiny.

I went to Tahiti about 25 years ago, and there was a conservation worker/researcher staying in the same guesthouse. He was funded to research and try to devise a recovery plan for some very rare endemic passerine forest birds. He reckoned one was down to single digit population, and some others not much better. He told me that nearly all of Tahiti's extensive interior forest was regrowth. Flame trees (Spathodea campanulata) from Africa formed a large part of the regrowth, having been introduced as ornamentals. And this despite the fact that the regrowth was often over 100 years old. There was quite a bit of continuous old-growth near the top of the mountain (he took me up there in his car for a look - rather brief as it was cold and above the cloud-base like most of the time up there). But that was of its own distinctive type because of the different climate up there. Old growth lower down was limited to a few narrow stretches in steep valleys, which had never been cleared. And that was the only place you found the very rare endemic birds he was working on.

Similarly I visited Cameron Highlands in Malaysia a few months later, and went for a forest walk, where I saw practically nothing, not even butterflies. I had been to Frasers Hill, another hill resort in Malaysia, about 10 years previously, and seem a bit more wildlife. Likewise in a recent visit to Penang Hill, there was even more wildlife. I discovered Cameron Highlands suffered the same issue as in Tahiti - nearly all of the lower accessible forest was secondary regrowth of limited diversity. Up at the top of the local mountain, Gunung Brincang, which I cycled to near the top and walked the rest on a prepared trail, was a distinctive old-growth forest. But again that was specific to the high altitude. When I look today at maps of Cameron Highlands, it is evident that there has been very extensive further development in the area over the last 25 years, not only tourist development, but also agriculture, as you can grow different stuff up there. Fortunately peninsular Malaysia does still have some extensive old-growth forest cover, despite the expansion of palm oil plantations. Malaysian Borneo has seen much more extensive forest loss to plantation.

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