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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