Welcome to our new rewilder
Introducing our latest recruit Rebecca Senior – someone with big plans for small-scale rewilding
“We’ll be sending out a questionnaire so supporters of Rewilding Britain can help us shape our small-scale rewilding guidelines”
I’m very excited to be joining Rewilding Britain, both the dedicated team here and the rapidly growing community across the country. I believe that Rewilding Britain, as a young and innovative charity, is uniquely placed to start a new kind of conservation movement, working with the British people to restore ecological processes nationwide.
I’m here on a three-month placement as part of my PhD, and in this time I’ll be developing guidelines for small-scale rewilding. What better way to have a widespread and personal impact than to encourage everybody to rewild their own parks and gardens?
We’ll soon be sending out a questionnaire so supporters of Rewilding Britain can help us shape these guidelines and make sure we’re answering the questions that are important to them. If you think you might want to rewild a small, local space, please stay tuned!
My wildest hope
Nationally, I think rewilding can deliver the ambitious and adaptable kind of conservation that is desperately lacking at the moment. My wildest hope is that I can one day take my (currently non-existent) children on hikes to look for wolf and lynx poo and play in vast forests that aren’t just timber plantations.
I’d like Britain to be setting an example for other countries, with people and nature working side by side. To achieve all this, it has to be an all-scales approach – all shapes and sizes of land, and all kinds of people. To paraphrase the great Sir David Attenborough, I passionately believe that the priority is for people to care about nature, and to achieve this, people must experience it.
How I got here
My first experiences of the natural world came from wandering the woods and uplands of Todmorden in West Yorkshire with my dogs. My family often went on camping holidays around the UK, and my Mum frequently lamented my ability to gravitate towards creepy forests and random things like lichen and poo!
I first learned about rewilding in my final year as an undergrad. The concept captivated me because I was so accustomed to traditional conservation that is ultimately driven to accept the somewhat defeatist vision of simply stopping things getting worse.
A good friend of mine, Tim Kasoar, began a PhD in rewilding at the University Cambridge and bought me a copy of Feral for Christmas. By the end I had started to see striking relevance to the place where I grew up. Todmorden is well-known for its numerous and devastating floods and a lot of this may be attributed to management of the uplands.
I heard a lot more about rewilding at the British Ecological Society conference in 2015, where I met Dr Chris Sandom. Through Chris, I decided to apply for funding (from my NERC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership: ACCE) to do this placement – and here I am!
More about Rebecca
Rebecca is about to enter the third year of her PhD at the University of Sheffield, where she researches the impacts of selective logging on fine-scale climate (mm to cm) in Bornean rainforest. Before that, she worked at UNEP-WCMC (United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre) and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge.