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about

This website has been created in order to encourage discussion about rewilding in Scotland.

Once home to magnificent species such as wolves, lynx and bears, man's destruction of Scotland's ecosystems has created unnatural circumstances.  Other species, such as the wildcat, are critically endangered.  Wild boar, beavers and elk have already been reintroduced to varying degrees.  2011 saw the first birth of an elk calf North of the Great Glen in over 3000 years.

In the absence of apex predators, the deer population is free to expand unhealthily.  To prevent the devastation of our trees, the public are forced to subsidise the mass culling of deer just to protect the little woodland we have left.

The benefits of rewilding are numerous, and we would argue that repairing the damage inflicted upon the land by humans is a moral end in itself.

 

But rewilding is not without its challenges.  

The human population has exploded since we were last able to peacefully co-exist with many species.

There is an obvious - though we would argue acceptable - risk to livestock.  There are political, legal and logistical obstacles which need to be overcome, too, but some groups have already shown that these barriers are not insurmountable.

We want to raise public awareness of rewilding in the hope that the people of Scotland will show the passion for which they are rightly famous; to help them connect with nature and, unlike too many generations before them, treasure our land for something other than short-term economic benefit.

We do not yearn for nature to go backwards, nor to create a perfect ecological state and preserve it forever more, as if that were possible.   We want to re-introduce plants and animals to the vast, empty spaces in the Scottish Highlands and then step back and let nature take its course.

It will take a long time.........

 
 
 

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one day

 
 

wild boar (sus scrofa)

There are wild boar in Scotland.  This fascinating mammal was absent from the Britain for over 700 years, and were reintroduced in the 1980s.  Perhaps inevitably, some escaped from the farms they were bred on, and no one really knows how many there are.  They have a bristly coat, which may be brown, red-brown, dark grey or black in colour.  A rare white phenotype is also possible.  Males weigh up to 200kg.  The sow is smaller at around 125kg.

Wild boar have a similar diet to the badger, and their intense rooting can devastate agricultural land.  Indeed, their ability to root and clear areas of species such as bracken is key to their ecological necessity, given that it allows other species to develop and flourish.


EURASIAN LYNX (LYNX LYNX)

Believed to have been hunted to extinction between 500-700AD, much progress has been made in the effort to reintroduce the lynx to the UK, mainly by the Lynx UK Trust.  A medium-sized felid with large paws, the lynx is a solitary mammal, a very able climber and an effective predator even in deep snow.  

It is fair to say there is much enthusiasm about the return of lynx, perhaps due to their fondness of killing deer.  Interestingly, there isn't a single reported instance of a lynx attacking a human.


Wolf (Canis lupus lupus)

The Eurasian wolf - a subspecies of the grey wolf - was once widespread throughout Europe.  In many parts of Europe where wolf populations remain, they are often forced to survive on a diet of livestock and food waste from humans.  

The persecution of wolves was enforced by legislation in England during the 16th Century, although they were able to survive longer in Scotland, sheltering in the vast tracts of forest.  The last wolf was killed in Sutherland in 1684.

Whilst the average size of a wolf is between 32-50kg, an adult male can weigh up to 80kg.

 

 

BEAVER (CASTOR FIBER)

It is believed that the beaver became extinct in Great Britain from the 16th Century.  The beaver is a keystone species, meaning it has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance.

On 29 May 2009, eleven beavers were released in Knapdale, Argyll, as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial.  This trial has been hailed as an outstanding success, and it is now for the Scottish Government to decide whether to licence the reintroduction of more animals.

Assessment of the environmental impact of the trial showed that the beavers had felled trees and built dams and canals.


eurasian brown bear (ursus arctos arctos)

Also known as the common brown bear, this powerful animal can weigh up to 300kg, equipped with 42 teeth and claws that can grow up to 10cm in length.

Their absence from Britain has lasted over 1000 years, having been used in fighting arenas in Ancient Rome where Caledonian bears were believed to be the strongest of all.

As with other species such as lynx and wild boar, the main opposition to reintroducing bear is from farmers fearing for their livestock, particularly sheep.


elk (alces alces)

The elk (known as the moose in Northern America) is the largest species in the deer family.  Identifiable by their palmate (leaf shaped) antlers of the male bull, they typically inhabit mixed deciduous forests in the Northern hemisphere, most commonly Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia.

Unlike most other deer species, the elk is a solitary animal and is preyed upon by wolves and bears.

Elk died out in Britain around 2500BC, and were reintroduced by Paul Lister on his wilderness estate in 2007.  Unlike deer, which eat away at the stem of tree saplings to the extent that almost none can survive, the 8ft tall Elk browse around the tops of trees like Giraffes.

Top predators can reinvigorate and enrich our heavily depleted ecosystems, and bring economic as well as environmental benefits.
— Paul Lister
 
 
 

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benefits

 
 

1.

wild boar

Wild boar are believed to be amongst the most intelligent of animals.  They are invaluable in controlling bracken and helping the regeneration of forests.

2.

wolves

Wolves would bring significant benefit in controlling the deer population, reducing the need for tax-subsidised culling and allowing the natural regeneration of woodland.

 

 

3.

lynx

Could perform an essential role in controlling the deer population.  Whilst they do have other food sources, they are known to prefer deer whenever it's available.

4.

bear

Very little has been written about the ecological benefits of reintroducing the bear, although people in general are enthusiastic about its potential return, perhaps suggesting a 'feel good' factor.

 

 

5.

beaver

Thought to play an important role in regulating floods, holding water in periods of drought and improving water quality.  They also coppice broadleaved trees and bushes, helping to diversify the surrounding environment.

6.

elk

Magnificent to behold, elk were once part of our landscape and provided that a widespread recovery of our woodland takes place, the elk could return to play a role in our natural ecosystem.

 
 
 
 

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CONTACT

 

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