Rewilding: How nature recovery on a giant scale can help Scotland

Not only is the planet amidst a climate emergency, wildlife is vanishing off the face of the earth at an alarming rate.

And the two are inextricably interlinked. Loss of biodiversity is both a cause and a consequence of climate change.

Here in Scotland within my own lifetime almost half of all species have decreased and more than a tenth are now threatened with extinction.

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Research has shown that a healthy, biodiverse environment is not just good for wildlife, it’s good for us and helps tackle the climate crisis.

A massive rewilding project - Affric Highlands, led by conservation charity Trees for Life - will restore nature across a network of landholdings potentially covering an area of more than 500,000 acres, stretching from Loch Ness across the central Highlands to Kintail in the west, and encompassing Glens Cannich, Affric, Moriston and Shiel. Picture: Grant Willoughby

Nature provides countless environmental services and is probably the most efficient weapon in our arsenal when it comes to tackling climate change and protecting us against its worst impacts – from sucking up and storing carbon dioxide to helping to control water levels and pollinating crops.

It is also proven to boost human health and well-being just by being there, outside.

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Going wild: How Scots are working to save nature through rewilding

“Imagine a Scotland where nature is reawakened. Where a rich tapestry of native woodlands, wetlands, wildflower meadows and grasslands is stitched back together.

"Where land and seas teem with life. Where people feel connected to the natural world, wherever they live. And where nature-based enterprises support thriving communities far and wide.”

This is the vision of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, a collaboration of organisations with a mission to see nature restored on a grand scale.

Rewilding is not just about wolves, bears and lynx. It’s about all species, animals and plants, from the smallest to the biggest .

It’s a progressive approach to conservation, encouraging nature to take care of itself and allowing natural processes to shape land and sea and repair damaged ecosystems.

The end result should be thriving habitats hosting a diverse range of species – as nature intended.

The concept has been around for a long time, but initiatives in Scotland are growing apace, with everything from tiny domestic projects in people’s own gardens to massive-scale efforts like the new 500,000-acre Affric Highlands project, announced a few days ago.

As far as I’m concerned you can’t have too much rewilding and I would love to see Scotland become the world’s first rewilding nation, as proposed by the alliance.

Now with COP26 rolling into Glasgow in a matter of weeks, it’s a good time to highlight how nature-based solutions can help us all.

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