Does Rewilding have to include wolves?

Dave

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It's everything else that can be contentious.
There is a lot of misinformation about - few people (if any at all recently) have been bitten by an Adder. Plenty of dogs have been, but you have to seriously mess around with them for them to bite. They really just want to slither away and hide as soon as possible. That doesn't make a very good newspaper headline though. "Wild Bird attacks Cat" will sell more newspapers than "Cat attacks Wild Bird".
 

AnyaKimlin

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Where is our predator?

Humans are the biggest threat to any eco system but in Scotland we are the deer's only predator and we complain when they eat a few trees (as opposed to humans completely deforesting part of the world). We need to be talking about all creatures and benefitting everyone not just humans.

I have no problem with us bringing wolves back, they're currently at the wildlife park along with elk.

We do need a more eco centric approach to this and it needs to be more than just scientific. Without massive cultural changes it's not going to work. Our local council is trying not to cut the grass so now we have guerrilla grass cutters.
 

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Montero

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We do need a more eco centric approach to this and it needs to be more than just scientific. Without massive cultural changes it's not going to work. Our local council is trying not to cut the grass so now we have guerrilla grass cutters.
Eyeroll. Some people.
The scheme I've seen of planting drifts of wild flowers at the local school is the kind of thing that will help change the next generation of adults.

Regarding current verges it probably needs a leafletting campaign and regular notices on sticks in the verge along the lines of "This verge is let to grow for the wildlife. Please don't cut it." Though that does need to include making sure there are no brambles sticking out to get in the face of cyclists.
Notices and leaflets will stop some people, who'd assumed there was no reason other than council cuts or laziness, but won't stop all.
Friends of ours let their front garden go to teasles and thistles, and had tons of small finches coming by for a snack. Complaints from the neighbour, but of the loud remarks over the hedge variety, rather than an actual conversation. Then one night, while a bit tiddled, he got out his strimmer and started on levelling the weeds in their garden. Our friend did catch up with him and stop him and next day explained all about the birds and the guy did actually back off. Possibly guilt from what he knew could get him sued.

I do like your Ego vs Eco jpg. Is it free to copy and use?

I agree we should be talking about benefiting all creatures. But I suspect to get cultural change, some of it will need to be bottom up steps, the birds, bees, flowers and butterflies, with the frogs and hedgehogs and fungi in there too, getting people used to the idea of being considerate towards and valuing non-threatening nature and expanding that towards the less instantly appealing parts of the ecosystem.
There also needs to be education about how animals really are, and are not dangerous. Not the myths, but the reality.
For example there is ongoing work to help urban Indians live alongside the leopards strolling into their towns and cities.
And there is this older blog article on how rural Indians are pretty good at living alongside wildlife, but urbanites have forgotten how.


I rather like this quote from Richard Conniff
“Wildlife is and should be useless in the same way art, music, poetry and even sports are useless. They are useless in the sense that they do nothing more than raise our spirits, make us laugh or cry, frighten, disturb and delight us. They connect us not just to what’s weird, different, other, but to a world where we humans do not matter nearly as much as we like to think.
And that should be enough.”
Possibly still a little more ego than eco, to discuss their importance in relation to humanity, but a good statement to counter the everything has to be useful crowd.
 
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AlexH

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There is a lot of misinformation about - few people (if any at all recently) have been bitten by an Adder. Plenty of dogs have been, but you have to seriously mess around with them for them to bite. They really just want to slither away and hide as soon as possible. That doesn't make a very good newspaper headline though. "Wild Bird attacks Cat" will sell more newspapers than "Cat attacks Wild Bird".
Sadly the tabloids love encouraging that kind of misinformation. I remember seeing a headline something like "Killer fox attacks baby." It wasn't a killer fox; it bit a baby. The baby had to go to hospital and was okay.
 

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Dave

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There are trees that are more suited to city streets. They may not be native but they are ornamental and still give a lot of the benefits that any tree does in an urban environment. Buddleia would count.

But don't get me started on street trees. It's too political for this forum in any case, but I wish they would concentrate on keeping the mature street trees we ALREADY have rather than cutting them down.
 

Montero

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Which all puts me in mind of green roofs. I think they only work on flat or very shallow slope, but it would make a massive difference if the roof of every building was turned into a green space. Really not sure how you'd achieve that on a slate pitched roof, but I am sure there are alpine turfed pitched roofs with goats grazing on them.
Now there is a thought for your average suburban terrace - goats grazing on the roof. Or even cows. Come out your front door in the morning and it won't be a bird that poops on you.
 

CupofJoe

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There is a building not too far from me where they have "terraced" their sloping tiled roof by adding what looks like window boxes or small planters. The last time I drove past [admittedly 2 years ago] it was a riot of different colours.
The occasional precipitation of goat poo I could probably get used to. But cowpats from above? It's a no from me... ;)
 

Montero

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I was not being entirely serious......
And you need to picture one of those massive swiss chalets with the massive pitched roof covering several storeys with the eaves down near to ground level.
Though the possibility of a ballistic cow pat from three storeys up is not totally ruled out.
The idea of a cow on the roof a modern UK terraced house ....... if the cow pat was bad, imagine a ton of cow slipping off.
 

AnyaKimlin

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Australia and Asia (particularly India) appear to be leading in how literature/our writings play a part in rewilding and improving the environment. There are schools of Environmental Humanities. The idea being that without the humanities we won't engage enough people with the science. These lectures are a bit dry but really interesting:


 

Dave

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So, I'm back from Knepp Castle Estate and said I would report my findings.

What they've done mainly is create a lot of scrub and ponds - both quite rare in the UK as people find scrub agriculturally unproductive, and think it looks untidy, but it is great for many species that have now become rare. So, they have the extremely elusive purple emperor butterflies that feed on sallow trees. Too elusive for me to see however. I heard cuckoos and nightingales but didn't see them either. There were many, many other birds though, but Mrs. Dave is the expert on birdsong. They have re-introduced storks, which were nesting with chicks, and could be seen soaring overhead like tetradactyls. They have permission to re-introduce beavers now.

They have longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs, and horses roaming wild, together with Roe and Fallow deer, and it is this natural grazing by these large mammals that makes the difference there. The pigs rut in the ground and the others make pastures between the scrub, all of which is now very unusual as a landscape in the UK. It seems very unusual to see free-roaming farm animals; piglets just appearing out of the hedgerows. I saw a grass snake swimming and trying unsuccessfully to catch mating dragonflies.

People and dogs are very strictly kept away from most of the land; kept on the various walks (where dogs must be on a lead) and on the public footpaths that cross through. The longest circular walk is about 7 miles. There are two pubs within walking distance. I really enjoyed the walks and the camping. Dark skies, extremely quiet (except from the bird's morning chorus) and very peaceful. You can sometimes hear traffic from the A24. If the wild camping sounds too uncomfortable, there are Yurts and Shepherd's huts with proper beds. The shop sells meat from the estate that you can barbecue by the tents. There is also wild swimming in a very murky lake. I passed on that as I have tried it before. The facilities are basic but clean. The kitchen had a Pizza oven. There are jeep safaris and outdoor Yoga (all fully booked up, long in advance).

The estate is certainly still managed, and isn't a hands-taken-off-the-rudder experiment at all. I saw trees cut, but not removed; left to make shelter for small animals. There is a lot of water management in evidence. They have removed some old Victorian canals (like much of this region there was a lot of iron mining and smelting here in the past) and let the river Adur flow more normally. They are lucky that the land also has many existing small woods and some very old oak trees. Some of these now have large tree houses that can be visited for a more panoramic view.

They also seem to have had a lot of input of ideas from various ecologists, and appear to have experimented with trying out other things to see what worked and what didn't. I don't know how they control the rabbits, because there are no wolves or large predators, but I've bought the book to read. Not sure when I will get around to reading it though.
 

Montero

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Thank you for that report. Very interesting and glad to hear it is as I pictured. Sounds like you had a good time.

Regarding rabbits - we are really rural and have very few. There are roving farm cats passing through, and foxes, and we see the odd poor rabbit with running eyes presumably from myxomatosis. Regularly see rabbit remains - tufts of fur across the grass. At the moment I see one rabbit roughly every other day.

Edited to add - the free range pigs might be catching rabbits - they are omnivores. There is a brilliant bit in the book about her being very startled one day at a sudden eruption of bubbles in a pond she was passing and an adult pig surfaced with a freshwater clam in its mouth.
 

Dave

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Rabbits are also predated by foxes, weasels, stoats.
We didn't see any of those while there. That doesn't mean that aren't there, probably in huge numbers. However, we did joke about the lack of Foxes, saying that they've all moved to the suburbs. Foxes in the suburbs raid food waste bins (they know how to open them) and don't seem fearful of man. Those in the countryside are probably still more shy and wily.
 

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