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Rewilding – A New Approach to Environmental Regeneration

SRUC Edinburgh Student Ambassador Liam Thorpe shares what he is enjoying most about the Environmental Management HND course and explains what effect the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland will have on the ecosystem.

Liam

Environment student Liam Thorpe

Hello fellow house arrestees! I hope your four walls don’t look too much like insanity beach and the online learning is going well.

Here is a story about what I’m enjoying in the first year of my Environmental Management HND.

During my first semester we had a super interesting (if somewhat hard to hear) module titled ‘Biodiversity Conservation’ and the assessment for it took the form of a research report on a species of our choosing (from a list provided). I decided to research and write about the reintroduction of the Eurasian Beaver in Scotland and part of the reason for that choice was that they are what is known as a ‘keystone species’. This means that they have a disproportionately large effect on their ecosystem relative to their population size causing dramatic knock-on effects to many other plant and animal species.

Picture this: a family of beaver’s is introduced to an area and they do what beavers do – they fell some trees and they build a dam. This dam causes a new pool of water to form upstream causing plants that would previously have been far from the water to become submerged. Some plants will die whilst others will thrive creating greater diversity. Now zoom out further and picture the insects that can thrive in the newly created wetlands and further still, the amphibians and fish that will eat these insects and the boom in their populations. Take another step and we will see an increase in mammal and bird populations as they have greater access to food in the increased amphibian and fish populations… All of this from the introduction of one family of beavers.

Writing this report got me very interested in the power of keystone species and in the idea of reintroducing such species to places where they had become endangered or extinct. It was down this rabbit hole that I found the term ‘Rewilding’.

I attended a webinar in November put on by ‘Heal Rewilding’ and hosted by the authors of a newly written book (titled simply: ‘Rewilding’) Paul Jepson and Cain Blythe. As they shared this fascinating and exciting new approach to environmental regeneration, I became hooked. Suffice it to say, I had ordered the book before the webinar had ended.

It is a controversial subject and a phrase which is somewhat outdated but nonetheless, it is a radical approach to rapid environmental and ecological recovery through nature-based solutions and, after learning more about it, I would say I am a strong advocate.

So I encourage anyone who is interested in environmental regeneration to spend some time learning about this movement and if it inspires you, support it and get involved.

Our actions and attitude towards the natural world in the 2020’s will create ripples for countless human generations to come and, in this solitary student’s opinion, rewilding can and should play a significant role in reversing anthropogenic damage.

A recording of a lecture on rewilding given by Paul Jepson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8zhx72_fxM

Heal Rewilding’s website: https://www.healrewilding.org.uk/

A non-amazon purchase link to the book: https://www.waterstones.com/book/rewilding/paul-jepson/cain-blythe/9781785786273

Fina out more about environmental and conservation courses at SRUC, visit www.sruc.ac.uk/environment

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