Aiming to inspire others farming land, the Wild Ken Hill rewilding initiative in eastern England is working to enhance wild nature, mitigate climate change and boost the local economy.
Today there is a growing awareness that highly intensive, industrial agriculture is not best serving people or wild nature. Its overconsumption of finite resources and damaging impact on ecosystems and human health render it inherently unsustainable. At the same time, a growing number of European farmers are now choosing to manage their land in a different way, employing economically viable models that are far more in harmony with nature.
One such farm is the 1600-hectare Ken Hill Estate in Norfolk in eastern England. The Wild Ken Hill project, which kicked off in 2019, has seen the estate begin rewilding a quarter of its land (think 480 football fields), which includes marshy wetland, ancient woodland, wood pasture, acid heathland and post-agricultural land.
“Rather than following the harsh agricultural and forestry techniques that have contributed to record emissions and species loss, we want to show that land can be used to fight climate change, to manage air and water quality, and as a space for nature and people,” explains estate owner and project manager Dominic Buscall. “We want to show the potential of rewilding, not only as a tool for environmental good but also as a way for farmers to reinvigorate their businesses.”
Before rewilding began, the Wild Ken Hill team conducted a comprehensive survey to evaluate the baseline ecological condition of the site. Well over 2,000 species were recorded, including numerous bird and bat species, roe and fallow deer, and over 800 invertebrates. The project has become one of the first major UK rewilding projects to secure funding through the UK Government’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which provides financial incentives for farmers, woodland owners, foresters and land managers to look after and improve the environment.
Posted on: 05 May 2020