The Yorkshire Society recently met with the Yorkshire Rewilding Network to find out more about the thriving community of rewilders and some of the interesting initiatives that are happening across our region.

When people mention rewilding many automatically think of initiatives that get press coverage such as returning beavers or keystone creatures to remote areas but as we found out by talking to YRN committee members  this is not the case. The Network promotes a much more inclusive approach explaining  how everyone across Yorkshire can make small and simple changes that will  make a huge difference to encouraging Yorkshire’s wildlife.

Jeff Davitt, YRN Chair, explained that a rewilding approach deliberately does not have to have targets unlike traditional conservation management which is often aimed at creating and maintaining a certain kind of habitat.  ‘’Rewilding is much more about helping natural processes to develop.  Wherever possible the more you allow nature to take the lead, the better although sometimes we need to give it a bit of help to get started’’.   Connectivity is also important  ‘’Ideally a rewilded landscape would contain a mix of different habitats such as  woodland, wood pasture, meadow, scrub and wetland – which allow different creatures to find their niche and interact.  Interconnected habitats also allow species to move freely’’.

The Network was formed in 2020 as a registered charity to bring together anyone across the region who has an interest in rewilding.  The aim is to encourage people to find out more, and connect with others to share knowledge and experience so that ultimately more land can be managed in a way that helps nature and people thrive together.

Whilst when it comes to rewilding, the larger the area the better, the Network understand the more people that can be engaged to rewild even with smaller changes in their back gardens or local shared spaces that this can make a huge difference to nature and its biodiversity. The Yorkshire Rewilding Network have a number of ideas as to what people can do to help rewilding on blogs and forums on their website.  They also organise opportunities to network through site visits, workshops and webinars and produce a regular newsletter.  The Network is free to join.

So what can you do to get involved?

The Yorkshire Rewilding Network encourage people to try some of the following activities if you own a garden or manage some land…

-Embrace Mess! Scrub, long grass, untidiness and decay is all excellent for wildlife

-Avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides – use organic pest control methods instead

-Plant native species of plants as they support a wider diversity of creatures

-Wildflowers have more nectar and pollen for insects than flowers that have been developed for colour and form.

But as well as the smaller scale projects around gardens and small verges, the Yorkshire Rewilding Network also encourage  larger scale projects such as those happening on the Harewood Estate near Leeds and at Broughton Sanctuary near Skipton.

‘’The best thing about rewilding is that it works – and in just a short space of time you see big changes in the abundance of all kinds of wildlife.  It gives me hope that we can all make a difference.’’ Debbie Davitt – YRN Trustee

If you are interested in finding out more about the network visi their website here.

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