Influencing policy and practice

Glen Affric Landscape c Chris Aldridge
© Chris Aldridge

We work with, advise and influence with Members of Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales/​Senedd and the Scottish Parliament and other bodies to mainstream rewilding in key policies and investment decisions. This includes, for England, the Agriculture Bill, the associated Environmental Land Management scheme and the Environment Bill.

We write briefings for debates and parliamentary questions and commission reports showcasing rewilding benefits. We respond to consultations which influence land management decisions (such as the England National Tree Strategy) and attend targeted high-level meetings with key policy decision-makers.

Throughout these discussions, we’ve been strongly supported by several MPs across all key parties and by members of the House of Lords. The chairman of Natural England, Tony Juniper, describes rewilding as a massively important part of the Nature Recovery Network” and in July 2020, Lord Goldsmith described Rewilding Britain as a fantastic influence on the national debate around rewilding”. 

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Our policy highlights include:

Influencing the 25 Year Environment Plan

The Government published its 25 Year Environment plan. We got a mention to support restoring ecosystems, and it cited Knepp Estate as a prime example of lowland rewilding. This was the beginning of the Public money for public goods’ policy change which is currently advancing with the Environmental Land Management consultation.

Calling on the UK Government to restore nature on a massive scale to help stop climate breakdown

We launched a petition to call on the UK government to make a bold financial and political commitment to nature’s recovery. The petition asked the government to draw millions of tonnes of CO2 out of the air through restoring, rewilding and protecting our environment. Within two months, 100,000 people had signed triggering a debate in parliament.

The October debate held with a key group of MPs engaged in enthusiastic discussion of rewilding and voted unanimously in favour. Lord Goldsmith confirmed that the government will double its spending in tackling climate change in the period 2021 – 2026, with a large focus on natural climate solutions.

Helping MPs understand how restoring nature can help decarbonise the UK

Our report, How restoring nature can help decarbonise the UK’, demonstrates how rewilding and other natural climate solutions can draw millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. Evidence suggests that natural solutions could provide over a third of the greenhouse gas mitigation required globally by 2030. Yet, only 2.5% of funding for mitigation has been committed. 

In advance of the government’s debate, we presented MPs and key organisations with our report, showing why certain habitats should be restored and how much it would cost, using carbon markets to finance it.

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How can nature help decarbonise the UK?

Influencing Nature for Climate Fund

The Government announced the £640M Nature for Climate Fund, which was set up to deliver exactly what we were calling for in our decarbonising report. Lord Goldsmith confirmed to Rewilding Britain that our petition and debate created a major difference in rewilding awareness for restoring nature in the UK, helping to secure this fund. 

Influencing other bodies to include rewilding in their response to the ELM consultation

Working closely with Wildlife and Countryside Link, we helped them place the right emphasis on rewilding in their response to Defra’s ELM consultation. Other like-minded organisations such as Heal Rewilding along with some major landowners, also followed our lead and submitted comprehensive responses calling for the inclusion of rewilding in ELM.

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Mainstreaming rewilding into government policy

We’ve worked closely with landowners to collate evidence on why rewilding should be included in the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. We’ve also rallied people to support our call for rewilding to be a specific option in the future.

As a direct result of our communication with selected members of the House of Lords, the House held a discussion on rewilding during their second reading of the Agriculture Bill. This centered around an amendment proposed by Lord Greaves to specifically mention rewilding in the Bill as one of the activities which could be funded under the future ELM scheme. Many members spoke during the discussion and there was plenty of support for the Rewilding Britain definition and principles, which were quoted by Lord Greaves.

A keynote speech given by Lord Goldsmith entitled A green recovery’, summarised the need for UK leadership on nature and climate as we set out our priorities for restoring the natural world in post-Covid economic recovery.

In that speech, Goldsmith discussed the government’s intentions to mainstream rewilding, and even more so with a direct acknowledgement to Rewilding Britain. He went on to confirm that (i) he expects the Nature for Climate fund to place a lot of importance on rewilding” (ii) that he expects there to be a recognition of the value of rewilding in ELM” and (iii) that the government is now looking very closely at delivering a riparian programme – ie rewilding and planting etc either side of waterways, to help create an informal nature network across the country”.

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Beaver felled woodland

Calling on the Scottish Government to relocate beavers

As part of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, we called on the Scottish Government to initiate a programme to relocate protected beavers to suitable habitat outside the existing beaver range. The petition aims to help minimise the need to kill these wetland wonders in conflict areas. It was the Scottish Parliament’s most signed petition in the last 11 years. 

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Asking Government to double woodland tree cover targets and focus on natural regeneration

Rewilding Britain supports the need for and articulation of an England Tree Strategy. In September we responded to the consultation and asked for the government to: 

  1. Double woodland cover to at least 26% by 2030 for the benefit of people, nature and climate.
  2. Support natural regeneration as the default approach.
  3. Raise and integrate investment in woodland regeneration from public and private financing.

We also encouraged our supporters to do the same and had overwhelmingly positive responses. Thank you. 

Latest policy news

Main — scotlandbigpicture​.com
Marine — Ramon Vloon/​Unsplash
Tree sapling — Oskari Manninen/​Unsplash
Heron — Rodger Bradshaw
Beaver relocation:
Two beavers: scotlandbigpicture​.com
Beaver felled logs: Ben Porter
Natural tree regeneration: Alastair Driver