AMID public and political enthusiasm for the notion that society can 'build back better' in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, there has been a call for 'massively upscaled' rewilding of the British countryside.

The Rewilding Britain charity has announced the creation of a new Rewilding Network to bring together existing and planned projects in the hope of starting a snowball effect that will see the principles of rewilding spread further and faster than they have to date.

“We need to hit the reset button for our relationship with the natural world, and rebuild our lives and economies in ways that keep nature and us healthy,” said Rewilding Britain’s chief executive Rebecca Wrigley.

“Our Rewilding Network will help propel rewilding to a whole new level – so we can all begin to enjoy a Britain rich in wildlife again, with healthy living systems soaking up millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, and our lives enriched by wild nature and strong resilient communities, regenerative farms and nature-friendly businesses.”

The charity claimed that it was now receiving 'unprecedented' levels of requests for guidance. Over the last year, this has included over 50 landowners and partnerships with almost 200,000 acres of land between them, and thousands of smaller-scale land managers, gardeners, individuals and local groups.

But while interest is high, expertise is not, so the network intends to put disparate projects in touch with each other to collaborate and share ideas. Despite reasonably good advice available for farmers, landowners and land managers about nature-friendly farming, there is currently no coordinated service providing advice on how to rewild and build new enterprises around this, said the charity.

Thus as the primary ‘go-to’ rewilding hub, the Rewilding Network will harness enthusiasm by providing expert practical help and advice, and being a place for discussion, sharing knowledge and ideas, and developing community action. Currently under development for a late 2020 launch, the Network will catalyse larger and better-connected rewilding areas, and create more opportunities for people to get involved in rewilding.

Rewilding Britain has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £25,000 to cover the network’s start-up costs – including the creation of an online resource offering individual support, videos and webinars. The intention is that much of the network’s information will be free to access.

“Rewilding is about letting nature do its thing and take care of itself, but it’s also about people – people lie at the heart of rewilding, and people need to choose to rewild to make it happen," said Ms Wrigley. "The Rewilding Network will be Britain’s first learning and action network dedicated to supporting people who want to put rewilding into practice."

Among the farms and projects liaising with Rewilding Britain is the Langholm Initiative charity, in Dumfries and Galloway, which aims to create a new nature reserve on Langholm Moor by purchasing 10,500 acres of land – jointly valued at £6 million – from Buccleuch Estates, in one of Scotland’s largest community buyouts.