What is Rewilding?
Rewilding is the process of letting country side return to its natural, pre-human-meddled state! This can be achieved by identifying areas of land in which enthusiastic rewilders, (or guerrilla gardeners), can sew wildflowers, to increase the biodiversity of plants and therefore animal species.
Alternatively, landowners can be encouraged to stop managing areas of their land, and allow them to grow as nature intended. This can be especially successful around the edges of farms and fields and where wildlife can remain largely undisturbed by human activity.
benefits of rewilding
We are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. The decline of insects and pollinators is happening at alarming rates. In fact extinction rates are estimated at 10-100 times greater than the background rate - that is the rate we expect to see species going extinct during a non-extinction era.
Insects are an important rung in the food chains that support complex webs of biodiversity. Once their numbers hit a critical low limit, these food chains collapse. These food chains keep many animals, including humans, supplied with energy.
What's more, the decline in pollinators - crucial for crop and plant fertilisation- is a serious threat to our crop yields.
Rewilding restores the natural habitats of many of these life-supporting species, allowing for thriving levels of biodiversity, as well as beautiful scenes of natural woodland and wildflower meadows!
Secondly, and hugely important in combatting the climate crisis, rewilded areas act as excellent carbon sinks.
Carbon sinks are systems which store carbon, rather than releasing it. Our largest natrual carbon sinks are the oceans and rainforests. But every single acre of natural, undisturbed vegetation has an impact on climate change, drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in roots and soil.
Rewilding alone cannot solve climate and ecological breakdown. But it can help in some important ways. The obvious ways are as discussed above, in offering carbon extraction from the atmosphere, and by rejuvenating habitats to support complex ecosystems.
But there is a more subtle way that rewilding can help. Climate breakdown is in part a product of our total disconnect with nature. Of being absorbed by a consumer lifestyle that not only forces us to ignore where everything we consume comes from, but also to lose sight of our place in the natural world.
Various studies show that the more we visibly see 'nature' right in front of us, the more we associate ourselves with our true place in the world. Rewilding has the potential to have a profound effect on mood and mental health, and the more we find ourselves surrounded by a natural, unaltered world, perhaps the more we will begin to associate every action we undertake with the destruction of the environment around us.
how does rewilding fight climate change
Plants and trees draw carbon out of the atmosphere to use in photosynthesis, the process from which they derive energy.
This carbon is drawn down through the plant and down to the roots. The carbon is then transferred to the soil either in dead root and shoot material, or by mixing with water and passing out through living root material.
The carbon becomes trapped in the soil, so the forest, grassland, or other rewilded area acts as a carbon sink. This process can be effective in trapping thousands of tons of carbon and reducing greenhouse gas levels.
It's estimated that soil holds more carbon than all vegetation and the atmosphere combined! Much of this enters the carbon cycle via decomposition of animal and plant material, and not through photosynthesis. But 'draw down' via leaves and photosynthesis plays a massive part in removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
The reason that deforestation is such a huge threat is that once an area of vegetation is disturbed - be that by tilling, land use change, or mass deforestation - all the carbon stored in the soil and vegetation is released back into the atmosphere.
So we face a 'double-whammy' of problems. Not only do we lose the vegetation which pulls carbon out of the atmosphere, as well as the ability to store that carbon, but we also release thousand of tons of stored carbon into the atmosphere and exacerbate global warming.
go rewilding in surrey
There are several extinction rebellion groups in Surrey who love a bit of rewilding. Go for a nice scenic walk, throw a few seeds around, and bang! You're rewilding! Our groups organise days out which are great fun and very therapeutic.
In Surrey, our hedgerows provide amazing habitats for all sorts of insects and wildflowers. Up until mid-late May they not only look beautiful, but host an amazing range of biodiversity. Sadly, Surrey County Council contractors arrive in late May and spray glyphosate, a cancer-causing chemical, all along the verges our pavements, parks, and schools.
You can help end this ridiculous and dangerous practice by joining our Pesticide Free Guildford campaign