Fan’s of radio’s The Archers will have been hearing the term ‘rewilding’ in one of the soap’s storylines for some time now. The idea is to restore ecosystems to allow nature to take care of itself, increase biodiversity, reverse global warming and ultimately boost the health of our planet.
Our national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and nature reserves already have elements of protection from human interference. Conservation projects have restored habitats and reintroduced species, wildlife programmes have raised awareness and many of our campsites are doing their bit to be as eco-friendly as possible.
A year of lockdowns has curbed some human activity and given nature a small breathing space; in fact during this time many of us have turned to nature for a little solace. That appreciation of the world around us is one of the joys of touring, and now – when it is once more safe to do so – we can get a micro view through some very British safaris run by rewilding projects in the UK.
The 3500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex called time on its intensive agricultural farming business 20 years ago and gave the area over to rewilding. Herbivores are seen as key to the rewilding project here, with Tamworth pigs, Longhorn cattle, Exmoor ponies and Red deer and Fallow deer keeping things trim. A mix of grazers prevent the shrubland becoming woodland making a better habitat for a wider range of species.
Success can be measured by the fauna found here, including all five species of British owls, 13 of the 17 species of UK bats, turtle doves, peregrine falcons, nightingales, nightjars and purple emperor butterflies.
The estate has set up a campsite of yurts, tents and shepherds’ huts, but if you are bringing your own, it’s tents only I’m afraid. It has also introduced a series of vehicle-based safaris and guided walking tours (starting at £50, visitors must be 12+). You can find out more about the safaris at https://kneppsafaris.co.uk and about the project at https://knepp.co.uk. Stay at the adults-only site Larkins Park (http://larkins-park.co.uk/) or family-friendly Sumners Ponds (https://www.sumnersponds.co.uk/).
There are several rewilding projects around Britain, with some offering guided tours – try Wild Ken Hill (https://wildkenhill.co.uk/) in Norfolk – you can find out more about them at https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk.