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Really Wild? Naturalistic grazing in modern landscapes.

Hodder, K. H. and Bullock, J. M., 2009. Really Wild? Naturalistic grazing in modern landscapes. British Wildlife, 20 (5), 37-43.

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From neat fields and hedgerows to windswept moors and mountains, the present landscape of the crowded islands of Britain has been shaped by people. Although 18th-century landscape architects unashamedly created scenery to please the eye, our domination of plant and animal life, and of nutrient, water and energy flows, has generally been a product of economic necessity. Even features once considered natural, such as the Norfolk Broads, can have artificial origins. As urbanisation, agriculture and forestry intensified during the 20th century there was little room left for the diversity of species and ecosystems characteristic of earlier times. Growing concern for our diminishing wildlife led to the development of the nature conservation movement, with the aim of safeguarding our flora and fauna (Sheail 1998). This in turn engendered the practice of targeted conservation management, combining low-intensity and traditional techniques with the growing science of ecology. This mainstream approach has often been accompanied by a counter-current, recently voiced in British Wildlife, that ‘Nature is becoming subservient to Nature Conservation’ (Oates 2006), that something intangible or spiritual is lost through too much management. Alternatives where intervention is reduced, or even withdrawn, have periodically entered conservation literature and discourse. Sixteen years ago, the ‘Edwards Report’ suggested that a ‘number of experimental schemes on a limited scale should be set up in the [upland] National Parks, where farming is withdrawn entirely and the natural succession of vegetation is allowed to take its course’. Today, this would be called ‘Re-wilding’. Re-wilding has received increasing support in the UK and interest extends beyond advocacy groups, as evidenced by a consortium of 38 ecologists and policy-makers who recently placed re-wilding and its consequences in the top 100 ecological questions of high policy relevance for the UK (Sutherland et al. 2006). It has even been advocated as the ‘optimal conservation strategy for the maintenance and restoration of biodiversity in Europe’. Specifically, this includes the restoration of grazing and browsing by wild large herbivores i.e. ‘naturalistic grazing’ (Vera 2000). It was in this climate that English Nature commissioned us to investigate the ecological, cultural and welfare implications of naturalistic grazing and re-wilding in modern English landscapes.

Item Type:Article
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:10324
Deposited By: Dr Kathryn Hodder
Deposited On:07 Sep 2009 11:58
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:23


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