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Naturalistic grazing and re-wilding. How do we do conservation? Nature conservation often ‘gardening’ –Inevitable with small sites –Cultural landscapes.

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Presentation on theme: "Naturalistic grazing and re-wilding. How do we do conservation? Nature conservation often ‘gardening’ –Inevitable with small sites –Cultural landscapes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Naturalistic grazing and re-wilding

2 How do we do conservation? Nature conservation often ‘gardening’ –Inevitable with small sites –Cultural landscapes –Hostile socio-political environment –Specific habitat/species Driven by target-focused conservation approach Many strengths to this

3 Agencies have looked at re-wilding Total freedom not possible, but the limits can be stretched Science-base must be sound

4 The past as a template – pre-Neolithic landscape? The traditional view – closed forest Vera’s view –‘ Half-open park-like landscape’ –Driven by large herbivores Research by CEH, Paul Buckland ENRR 648 –

5 Vera’s arguments considered Pollen analysis over-emphasised trees Regular abundance of light-demanding trees Failure of oak to thrive in non-intervention reserves Ignored of role of large grazers (Serengeti model) Misinterpretation of medieval references to forest Comparison with US ‘old-growth’stands Abundance of ‘open’ species in current landscapes Plus subsequent publications/debate

6 Hypothesis, not Fact Half open landscape – no strong evidence Herbivores were main driver of change – assumption Herbivores always give half-open landscape - wrong

7 Naturalistic grazing regimes Re-wilding Landscape scale, mosaics of habitats Natural(-istic) processes such as grazing Land abandonment under CAP reform Forestry renaissance Rewilding initiatives

8 Conservation issues? Are we prepared to allow change? Re-wilding is unpredictable Wood may go to heath, but heath may go to woodland quicker! Re-wilding may mean losses of abundance of species, even extinctions Keep some targets…?

9 Regulation issues Welfare legislation exists Feral animals are not wild Deer within fenced areas may fall into the category of ‘kept’ animals. Disease issues Legal constraints

10 Public support issues Much likely land has public access –Footpaths –Right to roam Domestic stock kill people –Extra problems of dogs –Stallions and horse riders Jurassic Park planning –Dealing with escapes

11 Ways forward Need large areas Likely to be staged process –Bring stakeholders on board Public Regulators Conservationists –Opportunity to stop at each stage Likely to be more very extensive farming than fully wild Not recreation of past, but new cultural landscape

12 Thank you!


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