Directories of wildland

Presentations on wildland projects led by:

Agencies and Public Bodies


Private Landowners

Community Groups

Small Group Summaries

Overall Summary

Pippa Langford, Mick Green and Peter Massini of BANC Council just after the BANC AGM which was held at the lunch stop during the Wildland Network day in Ennerdale hosted by Wild Ennerdale


Nature in Charge – a review of UK Wildland projects

14th October 2005 University of Central Lancashire, Penrith Campus, Newton Rigg

The second meeting of the Wildland Network was organised and hosted by the partners of the Wild Ennerdale project. The fully booked meeting was attended by 50 people who heard speakers talk about a range of wildland projects led by public bodies, NGO's, community groups and private landowners. Below are write-ups of the main points to emerge from the discussion after each pair of presentations. The presentations can be downloaded as PowerPoint Shows (PPS):

Reviewing wildland projects – key definitions and key issues in compiling directories of wildland

Mark Fisher, Self-willed Land and Wildland Network (700kb PPS)
Robert McMorran, consultant to Scottish Natural Heritage & Wild Scotland Initiative (339kb PPS)

  • The scale of wild land projects ranges from huge to very small
  • Isolated wildland and wildlife sites can be an oasis in a desert and need care and recognition
  • Need to think how to link up wild land and wildlife places, of whatever scale
  • The range of wild land projects have different situations and different benefits In describing and categorising wild land projects need to include ‘people’ as a criterion

Wildland projects led by agencies and public bodies

Wildland prospects in the North Pennines - Peter Samson, North Pennines AONB Partnership (564kb PPS)
Wild Ennerdale - Gareth Browning, Forestry Commission (557kb PPS)

  • How can tight conservation objectives allow change to happen? One example is that English Nature is trying to give a flexible interpretation of SSSI and SAC definitions. The flexibility of the Rural Development Scheme is being tested in the Wild Ennerdale project
  • It is important to make progress on collecting baseline data and on monitoring. The early stages of monitoring at Wild Ennerdale include use of fixed-point photography
  • Wilding in the North Pennines will be led by public bodies and NGOs. There are no incentives to encourage major landowners to pursue wilding of their land
  • Are public bodies too driven by their available funds and overlooking the need to raise funds for innovative projects like wild land?
  • Let’s not get bogged down in definitions – many new and ongoing initiatives may have ingredients of wild land that can be developed. ‘Coastal retreat’ is an example of a type of conservation endeavour which closely relates to wild land
  • When public bodies pursue wild land projects it is often helpful for staff to be flexible and sometimes step outside the rule book. Given the range of benefits from wild land projects this approach can be greatly beneficial

Wildland projects led by NGOs

Expanding the East of England’s fens - Martin Lester, National Trust
The wild potential of Mar Lodge - James Fenton, National trust for Scotland (1,439kb PPS)

  • If using herbivores for grazing management, how can their breeding numbers be controlled, especially given the likely public concern at culling?” (The Grazing Animals Project is working with welfare groups on this issue.)
  • Landowners and land managers are obliged to care for the welfare of fenced livestock and herbivores
  • Does the presence of conservation bodies in the market for land inflate land values? The National Trust will only pay the going market rate for land, as assessed by the Cambs County valuer, when acquiring land for East of England fenland restoration
  • The NT uses a long-term strategy for building and achieving the Wicken Fen vision

Wildland projects by private landowners

Rewilding West Sussex farmland: the Knepp Estate - Charlie Burrell (1,315kb PPS)
The Alladale Scottish Wilderness Project - Toby Aykroyd

  • What are the reactions from neighbouring farmers? Be proactive
  • Farming on boulder clay (at Knepp, Sussex) is no longer economic. Some neighbours not sold on this approach, others see it as a way forward. One neighbour putting ‘toe in water’ to see how it goes
  • What about dependancy on funding schemes eg. Single Farm Payment and marketing meat? Wildmeat market is good, Knepp shoots 150 / 400 deer pa
  • Knepp land is more controlled than, say, Ostvarsdersplassen ie. percentage of land under scrub/woodland and harvesting wild meat.
  • Defra have been very helpful at Knepp
  • What evidence is there that vegetation needs restoration, that sheep & deer over graze?
  • Is there such a thing as overgrazing?
  • 50,000 acres to be fenced (proposed) at Alladale offers opportunity to see fully functioning ecosystem – with family of carnivores: carrying capacity: isolated populations
  • It is too small an area, it will not be a natural dynamic ecosystem
  • This is first step only. A ‘worth it’ experiment
  • Electronic tagging will allow escapees to be caught.
  • Working with large herbivores means having to work with your neighbours ie. taking down fences: resolving boundary issues
  • NB people’s psychology about wolves has nothing to do with ecology. Some people think beavers are dangerous!
  • Fences keep animals or people out. There are access issues; Public Rights of Way etc. People/walkers anxious about ‘beasts’. Knepp is only ‘going public’ now and needs to think about public relations and education, and to build upon the open days it has had
  • It has been a nine year journey of change at Knepp. This gives time for mindsets to change and for people not to feel threatened. Landowners are wondering what to do with their land. Remember the 1920/30s when scrub, rabbit and partridge came back.
  • Knepp’s main income is from cottages and units. How to make money from the environment / land and stop farming?

Wildland projects led by community groups

Moor Trees, Dartmoor – Adam Griffin (462kb PPS)
The Carrifran Wildwood
, Scottish Borders – Hugh Chalmers (805kb PPS)

  • No boar at Carrifran yet - too scary, maybe later. Badgers disturb the earth.
  • Volunteers can become key players (investing time and money). Carrifran’s community of interest links all over the world
  • Ennerdale has not considered getting ‘supporters’ in this way yet. Though Ennerdale does work with volunteers & has education programmes.
  • Trees for Life are about re-establishing woodland and about enhancing the local economy. No boar experience. Use pigs effectively on land after tree felling.
  • Carrifran uses plant cell grown, not bare root, trees. Moor Trees plants bare root, and now some cell grown, trees (organic).


The participants split into eight small groups, with each group addressing a particular question, as per the headings below. Each question was addressed by two small groups. Most groups indicated one or two priorities amongst their summary list of points, and this is denoted by the point being in bold type. Bulleted points are those added in plenary discussion.

What are the practical challenges of wild land projects?


Group 1

Land ownership/control/acquisition

  • Having influence. This  is key – any land management agreement must be more than 10 years.

  • This is also key to ‘bringing people with you’.

  • Carrifran – people come on board because we have control.

  • If you have control – can move quickly. If you don’t have control, takes too long, people fade.


  • Don’t necessarily have to buy land, as we did under the old policy driver of intense agriculture (CAP reform etc). It’s different now.

Grazing pressure – future control

Public perception

Type of future management and level

Roads, existing use and organisation of access infrastructure

Conflicting interest in land usage

Group 2

Balance of herbivores: Too many? Too few?

How do you know when there are too many, too few?

Changing people’s perception

  • Issues of public acceptance of herbivores in woodland.

Acquiring enough land: Owning it. Signing in partners.

Revenue funding. Need sustainable ongoing finance

Integrating wildland aims against inflexible ‘designation’ targets

What is ‘best practice’?

With regard to livestock reintroductions - welfare issue and the public!


What can wild land projects pioneer and demonstrate?


Group 3

Proof of principles

Adaptive management

Scale and range of possibilities

Impact of increasing role of natural systems in land management

Values of alternative methods of land management

  • Demonstrate values of alternative land management.

  • Show casing eco-techniques

  • Show casing natural process

  • Show casing effects of interventions

Group 4

Approaches to wilding:

Ecological restoration techniques

Facilitating natural processes without deciding outcome

Intervention by design

Demonstrations of:

Removal of artefacts & aliens



Underpinning champions

  • Need champions (volunteers & professionals) to develop skills: show who to do it

Cooperation between volunteers and professionals

Landowners cooperating with flexibility


How will wild land projects benefit nature and people?


Group 5

People will benefit by:


Reconnection with land

Potential for experiences of nature – biophilia

Inspiration about potential – via examples

Landscape quality

Wildlife/biodiversity will benefit by:


Mitigation of climate change

Group 6

People benefit from being part of something positive. They get a chance to:

learn about the place

gain access

have some active involvement


Experience of nature: “biophilia” (people’s innate link with natural world)

  • People living with nature, not either / or

Knowledge of the existence of projects helps move things forward


How can people and organisations be influenced and persuaded by wild land projects?


Group 7

Provide accurate info, avoiding myths

Inspire about importance and possibilities

  • Don’t always have to be on the backfoot – we can do things on our patches

Be proactive: inspire the world

These projects (seen today) show that someone is doing something

Identifying issues and working out solutions together

Demonstrate benefits


How can people be influenced and persuaded by wild land projects?

  Group 8

Communication/ understanding



Reconnecting people with their environment/with land


  • People are influenced by trust e.g. wildland is not threatening; there are benefits for people

 Partnership agreements


How can  organisations be influenced and persuaded by wild land projects?

  Group 8

Demonstration sites that work

  • Organisations are influenced by demo sites

High level engagement visits

Sustainability demonstrated

Partnership agreements

People agenda – reconnecting people with their environment


All our examples show how people can be part of wild landscape, have a stake.

Wilding must involve people in an integral way – not keeping nature at arms length

Rewilding initiatives don’t always need money eg. Isle of Staffa

Need to look at connections eg:

  • a national plan – must be flexible to accommodate local initiaitives

  • connect with re-building biodiversity networks

  • mapping potential encroachment on wildland – and priority areas

  • learning from Pan European lessons via EN

  • look at ancient woodland as a start point

NB creating woodland connecting corridors destroys moorland connectivity