CCF Rewilding Symposium 2019

This weekend, 450 delegates attended CCF’s biggest conference yet, entitled “Rewilding and its effect on nature and people”. The symposium brought together a diverse range of speakers and participants, including conservationists, farmers and policymakers, and those simply with a fascination for a topic that offers excitement and controversy in equal measure.

Renowned rewilding advocate George Monbiot delivered a headline talk at the event on the potential of using rewilding to meet climate targets.

From the scientific to the spiritual, talks and workshops covered a whole spectrum of issues and perspectives in rewilding, making for an enriching and diverse discussion of key issues. Keynote speakers included rewilding heavyweights such as: George Monbiot, environmental writer and author of ‘Feral’; Isabella Tree, co-owner of the famous Knepp estate and author of ‘Wilding’; and Alan Watson-Featherstone, lifelong restoration advocate and founder of the award-winning charity Trees for Life.

The Endangered Landscapes Programme was well-represented at the conference and our stand attracted a lot of interest. The Programme was a central topic in many talks and workshops, including those by:

Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe, who gave an impassioned introduction to the concept of rewilding and explored some of the factors which have enabled the momentum of this progressive movement. Rewilding Europe now has eight flagship areas across Europe, including two funded by the ELP in Western Iberia and the Danube Delta.

Rebecca Wrigley, Chief Executive of Rewilding Britain, who highlighted the importance of making rewilding work for both nature and people. She said that “there is a lot that unites us…sometimes the [rewilding] debate is polarised, but it’s about finding common ground and mechanisms to find mutual benefits”. Rewilding Britain are leading the Summit to Sea ELP project with the Woodland Trust.

Rebecca Wrigley, speaking about the importance of finding “common ground” when it comes to delivering restoration projects that work for both nature and people.

David Noble from the British Trust of Ornithology spoke about the ELP’s monitoring framework. The overarching theme of the symposium was the effect of rewilding on nature and people. All too often projects fail to measure their full range of impacts, and opportunities to learn from both successes and failures are lost. This framework ensures that ecological, social and economic impacts of projects are effectively monitored – increasing the transparency, accountability and lesson-learning opportunities from projects.

Nancy Ockendon, Science Coordinator for the Endangered Landscapes Programme, also delivered a talk on this theme and drew attention to the Programme’s Restoration Evidence website, which provides open access materials to restoration practitioners.

The Cambridge Conservation Forum organised an inspiring symposium that was a powerful demonstration of the exciting debates happening within the rewilding field, and we were delighted to have been involved in the event.

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