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    Thursday 16 October 2014

    244

    Rewilding the UK: Living in the Past or Preparing for the Future?

    Could we really hear a wild wolf’s howl in Britain again? If human activity is to blame for the wolf’s demise in the UK, along with the local extinction of bears, lynx and beavers, is it now time to redress the balance and bring these captivating creatures back? Have your say - join the debate.

    The UK was once a home to several large mammal species that played important roles within our ecosystems. From lions, hyaena, hippo and elephants that freely roamed where London now exists, to species such as wolves, bears, lynx, beaver, elk and wild boar. The demise of these large mammals is believed to be largely linked to human activity.

    The concept of "rewilding" areas of the UK countryside with species such as wolves, bear and lynx (as well as more exotic species) is increasingly being considered by scientists and conservation practitioners.  Sea eagles and beavers have already returned to parts of the UK thanks to reintroduction programmes, but such initiatives are controversial.

    Those in favour of rewilding believe it’s a debt that we should repay to these animals – and not only that, but it could make our ecosystems more robust, provide economic benefits through tourism, and aid conservation management. Those against the concept say the wildlife would be a threat to rural livelihoods and farming, a danger to humans, and distract us from other vulnerable species which are already present in UK landscapes.   So what is the future of rewilding in the UK? Can these animals co-exist with people in our present day landscapes? Is it even in our interests to have them back?   At this exciting Earthwatch event, we will be joined by a panel of experts - including scientists, practitioners, and representatives of the farming industry – to deepen our understanding and challenge our perspectives on what is a complex and current conservation conundrum. Have your say – join the debate.

    Speaker details

    The Chair is Kate Humble, TV Presenter and farmer.

    Kate Humble is a writer and presenter. Last year saw the launch of Humble by Nature. Based on a working farm in Monmouthshire, Kate and her husband Ludo run courses in food, rural skills and animal husbandry.

    Andrew Bauer

    Andrew Bauer is Deputy Director of Policy, NFU Scotland. 

     

    Dr. Cristina-Eisenberg is a forest ecologist, expert wildlife tracker, and an Earthwatch scientist, leading the project Tracking Wolves and Fire Through Canada.

     

    Jonathan Hughes is CEO of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scotland’s leading environmental charity.. 

     

    Dr. Paul Jepson directs Oxford University’s MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. 

     

    Prof. Dr. William MacDonald Megill is Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching at Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany. He is also an Earthwatch scientist on the Tracking Beavers Through German Waters project. 

     

    Sue Holden, Executive Director for Earthwatch Europe, will open proceedings, while Prof. David Macdonald,CBE. Emeritus Chairman of Earthwatch, WildCru, Oxford University will give closing thoughts.

    The Earthwatch lecture series is kindly supported by:

    Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa


    News Category: Prior Events, United Kingdom

    4 comments

    Tor Henriksson | Monday, October 13, 2014

    We (Sweden) have increased our wolfpopulation (wolfulation) and this has caused some concern among small farms who has lost a sheep or two. The lappish people sometimes complain that they loose deers, hunters also are dissatisfied since they say that the wolf take their elk or moose. On average however, not much changed for ordinary people. Lots of people cry wolf, and that is bad. Some recorded wolf kills does however not make sense since any wolf would eat his kills, not slaughter for fun. I can only congratulate you for this initiative. Lynx are the coolest animal. They are shy and usually very difficult tó see in the wild. It is easier to see an UFO. I believe they do good for the ecosystem at large. Bears are sometimes going near houses. They are dangerous but they fear us more then we them.


    Hilary Lamont | Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Sweden, and other countries with populations of potentially dangerous wild animals, have a much lower population density than the UK. Although the Scottish Highlands, where such introductions are most likely to be made, have low population density they are quickly and easily accessed from any part of the UK and it is not unusual for walkers and climbers to have to queue at narrow ridge points. You only have to look at the problems of deer control being severely hampered by human presence to understand the high level of interaction that would result from re-introducing animals like wolves. The shy lynx would have the opposite problem - they could never get very far - or far enough - away from humans. The other big problem is that the UK population has been unused to living beside potentially dangerous wildlife for so long that they have no idea how to cope with it. They are very likely to try to get such animals to feed from their hands, even giving small children bits of food to offer as if they were feeding the ducks. Regular picnicing with food left out to entice them would result in animals hanging around hoping for more handouts. If you doubt this, you have only to look at tourist behaviour when visiting other countries. In spite of instruction and notices to please not feed the wild animals, they are the reason that the baboons near Cape Town are such a problem. It would only take one instance of injury, however culpable the injured, to set back the whole concept of re-introduction of any kind.


    Natasha Whale | Thursday, October 16, 2014

    This a topic I am VERY interested in, so much that I am completing a literature review about rewilding Britain for my undergrad dissertation.

    Personally, I would love to see these kinds of animals in Britain. However, this is much to consider; as the others suggest, it could be problematic due to fear of the animals or sheer lack of knowledge about them.

    We are an incredibly populated island, and this could prove to be problematic as the animals have a very limited space to escape to.

    I also have no doubt that we will end up with a select few who would hunt them the minute they set foot on the island, you're always going to get a hater!

    Very excited to see this is going to be a wider debate.


    Peter Forward | Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    Dingos in Australia have been listed as vermin since European invasion. They eat sheep. Australia has the worst record for species extinction on earth. Ecologists have recently discovered (introduced) cats and foxes avoid dingo habitat. Cat and fox predation and human habitat destruction means our unique mammals are heading for extinction. Only 200 bilbies now remain in the wild. Cats kill to drink and now populate our entire continent, without water. They cannot be trapped and do not take baits. We have 15 - 30 million cats and they each eat 5 approx animals a day. Do the math.
    In cattle country, dingoes deter stock from camping near water. The dogs wait there for prey. Cattle drink and leave. This has the effect of allowing trees and vegetation to grow where none has been seen for decades. Species not seen for years has emerged. Answer: rewild, let the dingos free.


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