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Friday, May 24, 2024

Rewilding Network, Catalysed by Farmers, Celebrates Results of Joined Up Thinking

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New figures released by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture reveal how their expanding Northwoods Rewilding Network, which now includes over 70 farms, small estates and community lands, is committing an ever-greater area to nature restoration.

The network’s land partners have all contributed by revitalising natural habitats, returning missing species and supporting rural jobs, demonstrating the capacity of grassroots rewilding projects to deliver big gains for nature, climate and people. 

This innovative network was only set up in 2021, when two farmers sought help from SCOTLAND: The Big Picture with rewilding their land.

Since then, Northwoods has expanded year on year, attracting interest across Scotland, with one fifth of the network’s partners now made up of local community groups.

Set up with nine core principles, the network supports and enables rewilding at varying scales and across different settings. 

Among the impressive numbers posted since its inception, the Northwoods land partners have planted over 168,000 native trees, while further setting aside more than 1,000 hectares for natural woodland regeneration.

90 hectares of peatland have been restored and 234 ponds and other wetland habitats have been created.

Over 16 kilometres of new hedgerows have been established and 18 kilometres of redundant fencing has been removed. 

14 beavers have also been released across the network and partner sites have reported an increased presence of rare species, including wildcats, great-crested newts, white-tailed eagles and northern damselflies.

At the same time, the network now supports 27 nature-related businesses and sustains more than 72 full-time equivalent jobs, generating over £2 million for local suppliers and service providers.

“Our network is made up of farmers, crofters, community groups and other landowners, who separately are the custodians of relatively small plots of land – between 100 and 1,000 acres – but who have come together to create something much bigger,” said James Nairne, who leads the Northwoods Rewilding Network. 

“By harnessing the appetite for rewilding from individual land managers, Northwoods is emerging as a blueprint for how working collaboratively can deliver significant collective impact.”

Aidan MacCormick, SCOTLAND: the Big Picture’s Rewilding Officer said:

“We believe this model serves as a showcase for how nature restoration and rural regeneration can go hand in hand.

“The landholdings within the Northwoods Network are supporting an ever-increasing wealth of wildlife, while also providing economic benefits to the communities in which they sit.”

Scotland remains one of the most ecologically impoverished countries in the world, with wild nature restricted to small islands in a sea of intensively managed landscapes.

Against this backdrop, the Northwoods Rewilding Network is connecting a growing web of wild oases that are helping animals like red squirrels, beavers and pine martens recolonise more of their native range.

Having started with just two like-minded individuals, Northwoods is proving itself a model of rewilding for the people, by the people, encouraging hopes for a revitalised landscape where nature and people can thrive alongside one another. 

Further information: www.scotlandbigpicture.com/northwoods

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