Ecosulis is a pioneering, highly experienced consultancy and contractor that has already protected and enhanced biodiversity at multiple sites across the United Kingdom. Underpinned by their investment in cutting edge research, innovation and technology, they continue to create and manage landscape-scale habitats that support wild nature and enrich people’s lives.
In rewilding and restoration we are now seeing the emergence of an exciting new environmental narrative. A “Recoverable Earth” narrative, characterized by compelling tales of the return of iconic species such as the beaver, bison, jaguar, and white-trailed eagle, the recovery of ecological abundance, and innovative ways of working with restored forces of nature to solve today’s environmental, economic, and social challenges. This is a story of what can be achieved, rather than what needs to be done.
Below are two recent blogs of special interest to Rewilding Earth featured on the Ecosulis site ~ editors
Efforts to restore wild nature benefit both people and the planet. Vance Russell, Biodiversity Lead at Ecosulis, explains how.
The Relevance of Rewilding
Posted by Vance Russell on 18/11/2018
Today, the largest terrestrial carnivore in the United Kingdom is a badger. Aside from the fact that I love badgers, wouldn’t it be great to have a little more diversity in our landscapes?
At Ecosulis, we believe that rewilding is the best way to enhance British biodiversity. But this progressive approach to conservation isn’t only about letting nature take care of itself and bringing back lost species. It can reconnect human lives with the natural world, support sustainable livelihoods, regenerate degraded habitats in a cost-effective way, and help with everything from securing supplies of freshwater to mitigating flood risk. At a time when the United Kingdom is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, the question we really need to ask is: can we really afford not to rewild?
My experience with rewilding and the benefits that enhanced wild nature date back many years. But it was more recently in 2010, when I was working on forest conservation in California, that I had a chat with John Davis from the Albuquerque-based Rewilding Institute. John urged me to think big and work to reintroduce long extirpated species, such as the grizzly bear, to the state. At the time, it seemed like a moonshot dream. But in less than a decade, wolverine and wolf have recolonised California, and grizzly reintroduction is under serious consideration. The presence of these species is already bringing more tourists and conservation dollars to the region, and driving discussions about how to connect wilderness, wild nature and community livelihood in economically deprived areas.
Two years later, I was part of a team who convinced the United States Forest Service to install a beaver deceiver – a device that allows water to bypass beaver dams – to avoid flooding in one of their visitor centres adjacent to a beaver dam. Not only was the Forest Service biologist excited about avoiding the huge expense of visitor centre renovation, but also the prospect of allowing industrious beavers to expand local wetlands and increase biodiversity.
Beavers, in fact, could be one of the cheapest ways of restoring degraded wetlands. A recent study in the western United States showed that beaver reintroduction would create enough water storage to offset the construction of two dams, potentially saving billions. In these uncertain times of climate change, “nature’s engineers” could be critical in ensuring water supplies for both wildlife and people.
Not only is rewilding potentially more cost effective than traditional forms of active restoration, it can stimulate new enterprise and economic activity, incentivising landowners and local communities to protect local wild nature and support conservation efforts.
Nature-based tourism, on the rise in many areas of Europe, is an increasingly valuable source of revenue. The European Safari Company, for example, is now offering safari-style holidays in rewilded European landscapes, with a percentage of profits recycled back into conservation. A Scotland or Wales boasting enhanced biodiversity and iconic species such as the beaver and golden eagle will surely bring more tourists and benefit local economies. Working in partnership with farmers and diversifying rural economies beyond agriculture will keep people on the land, pre-empt damaging development, and lead to healthier environments and communities.
Rewilding is all about dynamic processes rather than pre-defined targets. Yet humans and wildlife coexisting in restored landscapes is one of rewilding’s key goals. Accomplishing this goal is enshrined in Ecosulis’ core values of Biodiversity, Habitats and People. As experienced environmental consultants, our unique blend of innovation, technology, insight and commitment will ensure that rewilding plays an increasingly important role in delivering benefits for the nature and people of the United Kingdom.
Now is the perfect time to take the next step in UK conservation. Paul Jepson, Nature Recovery Lead at Ecosulis, explains why.
Listen: Rewilding Earth Podcast- Vance Russell Interview
The Road to Recovery
Posted by Dr Paul Jepson on 18/11/2018
The UK government recently stated its ambition to “leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it”, and to “not just protect and conserve, but enhance and restore habitats and landscapes”. Adopting the slogan “Protect the best, recover the rest”, unifies these ambitions. We not only need to protect the best regulations, policies and natural areas developed to date, but also forge ahead and engage new audiences in new conservation narratives suited to an era of accelerating change.
In rewilding and restoration we are now seeing the emergence of just such a narrative. A “Recoverable Earth” narrative, characterised by compelling tales of the return of iconic species such as the European bison, beaver and white-tailed eagle, the recovery of ecological abundance, and innovative ways of working with restored forces of nature to solve today’s environmental, economic and social challenges. This is a story of what can be achieved, rather than what needs to be done.
Nature, society and economy are inextricably linked, and there is little value in attributing blame when it comes to missed conservation targets and declining biodiversity. Contrasting sharply with the pessimistic undertones of many of the twentieth century’s conservation-related messages, Recoverable Earth inspires us with its positivity, and the idea that we can work together with nature, not only for the good of nature itself, but people too.
The Gelderse Poort project, a pioneering rewilding initiative located near the city of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, demonstrates perfectly how this can work in practice. Starting in the early 90s, the area’s waterways were restructured so that floodplains were once again able to play their natural role in flood protection. Clay mining became a new economic driver, partially replacing agriculture, with newly excavated channels contributing to the ecological restoration of the riverine landscape. Beavers, Galloway cattle and Konik horses were reintroduced, while species such as osprey and black stork have returned in growing numbers.
This restored natural asset is generating multiple forms of value for the citizens of Nijmegen. These include a range of nature-based recreation opportunities, a heightened sense of civic pride, and better flood protection and water quality. Local brick makers, who use Gelderse Poort clay, can justifiably say they are helping to build a greener future for the area.
As we approach Brexit, now is a time of transition and no little uncertainty. But as the Gelderse Poort project shows, the change in conservation thinking and practice represented by rewilding has been gaining momentum and generating positive outcomes across the globe for many years. As somebody actively engaged in this change, both as a researcher and an educator, I firmly believe that we should seize the opportunity to embed this thinking into our institutions and our landscapes. This will require a new generation of conservation enterprises, with the confidence, networks, skills and experience to innovate and involve others in shaping a better and brighter future for our natural environment.
A leading example of one such enterprise, today Ecosulis has the ambition and ability to put the philosophy of Recoverable Earth into practice. Dedicated to protecting and enhancing biodiversity and habitats across our project portfolio, we are committed to realising a recovered United Kingdom where wild nature, business and people can all thrive in an interconnected and sustainable way.
Listen: Rewilding Earth Podcast- Paul Jepson Interview
Contact: Vance Russell, Ecosulis
The Rewilding Institute (TRI) mission is to explore and share tactics and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation and restoration in North America and beyond. We focus on the need for large carnivores and protected wildways for their movement; and we offer a bold, scientifically credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization on planet Earth. Subscribe | Support