What is wilding?

Wilding is about charting a path forwards in our relationship with nature. Wilding is, fundamentally, a 'hands-off' approach to ecological restoration. Rather than preserving a particular habitat in a stable, persistent state and striving to maintain particular species compositions, wilding is more concerned with the promotion of natural processes and ecological functions for the benefit of biodiversity and society.

This means trying to work with nature in a more dynamic, open-ended way, rather than dictating what a particular space and its wildlife ‘should’ look like. Of course, this is not always an ‘anything goes’ approach, and particularly on smaller plots, trade-offs exist between more intensive and hands-free management.

Although the traditional approach to wilding requires large swathes of land, as seen in pioneering projects such as Oosvarderplassen and the Knepp Estate, we believe there is much to be gained from applying a wilding mindset and approach to smaller restoration projects.

What wilding is

A process-led approach committed to restoring ecological function, with benefits to people and wildlife. Wilding is as much about soil restoration, flood mitigation, water and air purification, carbon sequestration and pollination as it is about more space for nature.

 

Cost-effective. A process-led approach aiming for self-sustaining ecosystems allows managers to step back over time and let nature do more of the work. We are also working to develop a guide to wilding-based enterprises. 

 

A positive, inclusive environmentalism that recognises and addresses the ecological crisis without dwelling in the past.

Participatory, and about more than individual projects. It is about investing more people in a wilder future, resisting indifference and disenfranchisement in decisions about nature and the countryside through inclusive debates about the future of conservation and practical involvement.

 

About all of the scales at which nature works, from hedgerows, roadside verges and gardens to big landscape-scale projects. All efforts to make spaces wilder through the restoration of natural processes should be encouraged and included.

What wilding is not

Not just one thing. There are a number of possible approaches that could be considered wilding. Landscape-scale projects and the introduction of large herbivores and predators, the most contentious approaches, are only part of a much bigger picture.

 

Not contained to far-away reserves. It must also happen everywhere in between, within reach of everyone.

 

Not anti-agriculture, or about undermining rural cultures and economies. Wilding must be part of a mosaic of varied, connected land uses, and provide new opportunities to communities. The UK is overwhelmingly farmland; we need to make space for nature within this productive landscape and create more space just for nature.

 

Not the preserve of conservation scientists. Wilding is supported by rigorous science, but everyone is encouraged to learn about, contribute to, and participate in it.

 

Not pre-defined. Wilding is dynamic and open-ended, with invigorated natural processes and eventual passive management as overarching aims.