TV presenter Chris Packham has called on the UK's Royals to lead landowners into a new era of 'rewilding'.

As part of the rewilding campaign group Wild Card, Mr Packham has met with Crown Estate officials to ask them to commit to fully rewilding up to 50% of their landholding, and consider setting up a panel of rewilding experts to advise them on how best to achieve this. In response, The Crown Estate agreed to consider those proposals and offered to meet again in 2022.

"I was genuinely encouraged by the openness of the Crown Estates to consider our ambitious and concrete proposals for rewilding up to 50% of their huge estates," said Mr Packham. "After the dismal failure of COP26 we urgently need a big UK landowner to step up and show leadership. I’m feeling hopeful that the Crown Estate might be the people to do this."

The Royal Family are the UK’s biggest landowner, with over 615,000 acres of land and British foreshore from the Crown Estate alone. While some of the royals have been vocal advocates against climate change and biodiversity loss, Wild Card described much of the land inherited by today’s royal family as being 'in a poor ecological state', singling out the Duchy of Cornwall estate, owned by Prince Charles, for its average tree coverage of just 6% compared to the EU average of 37%, and the Queen's Balmoral estate in Scotland, which is managed as a sporting estate, 'suppressing the rare temperate rainforest that would naturally grow there'.

Read more: New campaign seeks 'rapid rewilding' across Britain

A recent poll organised by 38 Degrees found that three quarters (73%) of the general public would support the Royals rewilding, with only 5% opposing the idea.

Campaigner at 38 Degrees, Matt Richards, said: "The general public have made their views on this very clear – 73% back the Royals rewilding their estates and more than 100,000 signed the petition calling on them to take action to help tackle the climate crisis. It's fantastic that the Crown Estate is starting to listen – now the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster need to step up."

Early-stage analyses by Dr Steve Carver and Dr Jonathan Carruthers-Jones at the Wildland Research Institute suggest that some of the Crown Estate lands have high potential for rewilding and as such could be of value to multiple species as well as being structurally important for landscape connectivity at the local and national level. But the real value that rewilding campaigners perceive in getting the Royals onboard would be the huge example that would set for the rest of the UK's large landowners.