1. What is ‘ecological restoration'

The British Isles has lost the vast majority of its wilder places, functional ecosystems, biodiversity and bio-abundance. Simple conservation and protection of remaining assets is not enough, and has failed to halt the catastrophic wildlife decline in our countryside. Ecological restoration or rewilding is about restoring nature at scale to something many of our own grandparents would have recognised and enjoyed. It not just restoring species but the very natural processes that protect our communities and enhance protection against climate change and ongoing biodiversity loss. Organic free range meat and other natural produce is the result of this restoration.

2. Why are so many people and organisations calling for ecological restoration – and why do we need it?

Britain has faced a remorseless, continuous and country-wide decline of its wildlife since the Industrial Era, which has dramatically accelerated in the past fifty years, to the point where many once-common species now face extinction. At the same time, with only 6% of our land built upon, millions of wildlife-loving voices and policymakers encouraging nature based solutions and biodiversity recovery, now is the ideal time for NGOs, landowners and the public to turn things around on the remaining 94%.

3. What does Real Wild Estates (RWE) offer that is new to the UK nature restoration scene?

Real Wild Estates is a business that facilitates nature recovery at scale through providing both the ecological and critically, the financial wherewithal to make this viable as a land use option. We offer our services to present farmers and landowners or prospective landholders. We believe nature recovery is best served by a pragmatic focus upon ecological recovery alongside rural community recovery and jobs creation, managing landscapes as viable, sustainable and profitable enterprises, thus facilitating and ensuring nature recovery at landscape scale. We provide the expertise from ecological processes to wildlife restoration, extensive grazing to natural produce, real estate management to financial modelling, ecotourism to species reintroduction – to ensure this a viable long term land-use.

4. What are the food security implications of restoring land to nature?

The short answer is – very little. Some areas of the UK are productively farmed and RWE totally supports British farmers and the growing of our own food. However there are many areas of the UK which are not capable of supporting food production, either agriculturally poor land or marginal areas of landscape, supplying little or no food to our table, where biodiversity could be restored to its greatest potential, and where nature restoration can now become the most viable, socially-responsible, environmentally necessary and climate-savvy activity to be undertake. It is these areas where RWE focuses its attention.

5. What are the economic, social and community implications of restoring land to nature?

Restoring nature is now a viable activity that restores jobs, promotes health and wellbeing and enhances social cohesion, especially in its access to nature, in flood prevention and climate resilience. A functional ecosystem in a restored landscape provides carbon sequestration through woodland regeneration, slows the flow of water into our rivers and consequently our towns, villages and homes, and generates wildlife for the wider region and pollinators for our farmers. Conservation based grazing and woodland creation, and other conventional land roles can all dovetail into nature restoration – alongside new roles in land management, hospitality, accommodation, ecology, guiding and nature tourism, creating a wider and more varied rural employment base.

6. How do we ensure landowners and communities benefit from the process of ecological restoration?

All rural businesses including farms and estates require financial returns to remain solvent and to continue employment, opportunities and engagement for the next generation. In these uncertain times for farmers, estate owners and other landholders, we help the transition towards greater ecological restoration and nature recovery as a core business opportunity.  At RWE we aim to play a role in helping create more resilient land-holdings and more bountiful landscapes and consequently, drive wider employment increases in the rural sector and greater opportunities to participate and collaborate in the countryside. Ultimately, restoring nature pays – not just financially – but in terms of health and wellbeing, water quality, climate security and social outcomes – to rural based communities.

7. What is natural capital – and how does it work?

All markets are increasingly moving towards a realisation, driven by our global biodiversity and climate crisis, that positive environmental improvements should be recognised, quantified and rewarded within the financial system. Carbon is an emerging market in this regard, with a financial value now attributable to sequestering carbon through peatland restoration and woodland creation here in the UK. In addition, biodiversity, water security and phosphate/nitrate sequestration and removal, are all becoming fundable activities. The UK Government’s subsidies through ELMS are increasingly weighted towards nature recovery. RWE aims to help landowners maximise their natural capital through verifiable peatland restoration, woodland creation and ecological restoration actions.

8. How do we ensure its ethical and sustainable?

There is potential, in this new marketplace, for ‘greenwash’ so RWE work with a carefully selected number of UK based clients, to make verifiable and independently accredited carbon and other natural capital payments here in the UK. These lands can be visited, and are monitored and assessed annually as the landscapes biodiversity increases over time. RWE working only in UK land management on biodiversity recovery, so the estates and land projects we manage can be managed and showcased as ‘gold standards’ with this new natural capital support.

9. How does RWE, financially and contractually, work with existing landowners – and how do we run a viable business for ourselves?

RWE works as a ‘nature first’ service provider, advisor and land manager on behalf of its clients. We do this initially with a visit, followed by carrying out comprehensive reports that provide the vision and roadmap as to how to viably and sustainably restore nature and improve the number of jobs and opportunities on a landholding over a 5, 15 and 30 year period. We then act as a management partner, agent or overseer, on a monthly retainer, to help clients see through a long term vision for that land – with social, economic and ecological targets to attain.  None of this can happen, however, unless the land-holding is running as a healthy and viable enterprise – creating a valuable services for clients and valuable natural habitats and homes for wildlife.

10. How we work - and what packages do we offer?

RWE’s primary and unique focus as a business is on ecological or ‘ecosystem restoration’ – ideally at scale.  The end result is that natural processes are kick started to ensure long term habitat repair and nature recovery. This is an important and deliberately holistic approach to biodiversity restoration (or rewilding) and how we do this has to be carefully tailored to suit each landscape. This requires, besides our own skill sets and expertise, a range of specialist expertise from accredited partners and sub-contractors, in keeping with other land management agencies.

We can offer a range of packages to landowners or real estate investors.

Click here for more details on our packages.