Over 1,000 landowners in East Anglia are taking part in an ambitious rewilding project.
Each green mark on the map represents a promise to nature. A promise to provide it with more space to thrive in a corner of England where wildlife has, as in many places, been pushed to the fringes. The project, led by three farmers, is called Wild East.
East Anglian farmers, homeowners, schools, councils, churches and energy companies are among the landowners who have pinned plots to the ‘map of dreams’, and in doing so committed to setting aside a sliver of land for wildlife. The plan is return 20 percent of East Anglia (roughly 250,000 hectares / 620,000 acres) to nature.
It is becoming increasingly clear that rewilding land and letting nature run rampant is vital for the preservation and expansion of biodiversity. Interestingly, Wild East differs from other rewilding projects - rather than focusing on a specific area of land, it aims to create a network of habitats across an entire region, encompassing anything from churchyards to farmyards. The idea is to focus on a little nature everywhere rather than a lot of nature in one area. It means lots more people can get involved and start talking about it.
Tracking the progress of the Wild East campaign is the charity Map Aid, which created the ‘map of dreams’ to provide a visual representation of the region’s participating rewilding projects. You can see from the map that some enthusiastic rewilders from beyond East Anglia have also added plots to the map, and no doubt many more will do so as the concept gains traction and the good news spreads.
“One day we hope to give it a video game feel, so that people can fly around the map, and Mrs Jones, or a group of school children, or the person at No.10, can effortlessly see what has been done, and what more needs to be done,” said the charity’s Rupert Douglas-Bate. “It’s deeply heartening that so many people are signing up.”
Other rewilding projects elsewhere in England include an urban sewer in London and 3,000 acres in the Yorkshire Dales, whilst plans are afoot in Scotland for it to become the world's first re-wilding nation.