Find out all about the re-wilding movement - it's live and happening in West Susssex
Re-wilding is a word we are hearing more and more of. And we have our own re-wildling being undertaken in West Sussex at Knepp Castle Estate, and it was great to see Matthew Oates in the Nature Notebook in The Times recently (June 2015) comment on the work being undertaken there.
Knepp Castle Estate has been in the Burrell family for over 200 years. Most of the land had been devoted to traditional arable and dairy farming. But in 2001, the family shifted focus completely. They embarked on a series of regeneration and restoration projects, aimed primarily at nature conservation and a less intensive way of meat production.
The project in West Sussex covers 3,500 acres so it is enormous. Long-horn cattle, fallow red and roe deer, Exmoor ponies and Tamworth pigs reside there, all free ranging. They are being reared organically.
The land is moving towards becoming wood pasture, Matthew Oates explained, which means that wildlife have colonised in a big way. Nightingales, turtle doves, purple emperor butterflies make this area important, and nature is in full recovery.
Oates says the great thing about Knepp is that it is showing how rich in wildlife our countryside could be, if farming methods were less intensive. The grazing by the animals means that man can stand back and let wildlife and nature get on with it. As well as wildlife tourism safaris, the Estate runs educational visits for schools, groups and organisations.
The estate is developing a wildlife tourism niche, with safaris, wildlife courses and a camping and glamping site. You can book these directly
Rewilding: Giving Nature a Second Chance
Get re-wilding at home!
You can re-wild your own garden and encourage wildlife - it's easy to do. Take a look at the RHS campaign called Greening Grey Britain