This morning saw the official launch of a new national charity, Rewilding Britain, with an only slightly ambitious mission statement that includes…
… mass restoration of ecosystems in Britain, on land and at sea, reversing the decline in nature so that living systems and our sense of wonder can thrive.
Some might argue that the UK’s third sector landscape is already full to bursting with wildlife and conservation charities, all competing for public attention and the same shrinking funding pots. Do we really need another one?
Here at Urbantrout, we say yes, in this case we do.
Rewilding Britain presents a properly Big Idea, facing up to the colossal scale of our collective environmental challenges, and the undeniable fact that the UK’s conservationists can’t just carry on doing the same things and expecting different results. (As Einstein reputedly once said, that’s the definition of insanity).
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of George Monbiot’s highly influential book Feral, almost certainly the launch pad for Rewilding Britain, we highly recommend it: we spoke extensively with George when he wrote about the Wandle Trust in 2013, and we’re thrilled to see the Wandle featuring as a case study on Rewilding Britain’s new website.
In fact, at this point in time, it’s possible that the urban river restoration movement is the most visibly successful form of rewilding yet.
That’s because we’re not just concerned with restarting catchment-scale natural processes in rivers that were still biologically dead within our own clear memory, so that beautiful, iconic clean-water species like trout and grayling can live again in our post-industrial edgelands.
With lots of personal experience, we’ve also been inspired by the idea of reconnecting people with their local rivers, providing them with a sense of ownership and access to blue-green spaces that transform their quality of life, perhaps even giving them a positive reason for living in the city.
Trout in Dirty Places took a snapshot of the state of urban river restoration in the UK in 2011/12, and this site is still tracking the urban river restoration movement as it spreads across our towns and cities. Today, we’ve just become a part of an even bigger picture.
So welcome, Rewilding Britain. Fish Where You Live – and thanks for joining us on the grapple!
(Photos 2 and 3: Wandle Trust)