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Rewilding boosts jobs and volunteering opportunities, study shows - Rewilding Britain

Jobs up by 47% as new “myth-busting” evidence emerges from Rewilding Britain

Rewilding marginal land can significantly boost job numbers and volunteering opportunities while increasing action to restore nature and tackle climate breakdown, new research by Rewilding Britain shows.

An analysis of over 20 sites across England covering over 75,000 rewilding acres between them has revealed a 47% increase in full-time equivalent jobs and a nine-fold increase in volunteering opportunities.

The data also shows that food production can continue on marginal land that is rewilding, with all of the sites continuing to generate income from food production, livestock and other enterprises – puncturing myths by demonstrating that rewilding in Britain is not about land abandonment or ceasing food production.

Swindale Meadows and Beck 2017 (Haweswater) © David Morris
Swindale Meadows and Beck 2017 (Haweswater) © David Morris

Rewilding Britain has analysed data from the 23 sites as part of its role catalysing practical rewilding through support to landowners. Many are part of the charity’s new Rewilding Network, which is bringing together landowners, farmers, land managers, community groups and local authorities from across Britain.

“Our findings on green jobs should be music to the Government’s ears. They spotlight rewilding’s potential for creating economic and other opportunities for people – while restoring nature and tackling climate breakdown,” said Rewilding Britain’s Director, Professor Alastair Driver, who carried out the data-gathering and analysis. “Many of us knew that real-world rewilding projects produce food and create new job and volunteering opportunities alongside offering major biodiversity, flood risk, water quality, health and carbon sequestration benefits – but even we under-estimated the extent to which they do so.”

Jobs data was available for 22 of the 23 sites. Across these areas combined, full-time equivalent jobs increased by 47% – from 151 before rewilding began to 222 afterwards, over an average of 10 years. The variety of jobs involved also increased significantly, with many of the new jobs focused on nature-based tourism, monitoring, restoration activities, informal recreation, livestock management and education.

There was a remarkable nine-fold increase in volunteering opportunities, with associated benefits for people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. On the 19 sites for which pre-rewilding data is available, the combined number of volunteers has soared from 50 to 428.

“These are really positive findings. This volunteer engagement boom brings with it physical health benefits from being in a nature-rich environment, the mental wellbeing and feel-good factor from being involved in such exciting and worthwhile projects, and opportunities to learn new skills,” said Alastair Driver.

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