Located in the Northumberland National Park, the Hepple Estate has moved away from sheep, commodity timber and traditional game shooting towards rewilding. It has recently drawn up a rewilding strategy to guide its activity over the next few years. The estate plans to allow extensive grazing throughout the landscape, driving transformation of the land from partitioned fields, woods and moor to a more connected, single ecosystem.
Hepple is a rugged and elemental place where natural forces feel strong. There are parts of Hepple that are wild in feel, exceptional in an English landscape that is largely devoid of such places. There is the opportunity to expand and link these wilder, nature-rich areas. Overall the site has a vision for a dynamic mosaic of habitats supporting an abundance of wildlife on Hepple and the wider landscape through working in partnership with others.
Nature-based enterprises are key to the long-term funding of the project and will include the production of spirits including gin, vodka, organic meat and value-added timber products. In addition, the project is engaging local people by monitoring using citizen science and volunteering, and through its recreational access and engagement. Monitoring and research is a key element of the project. Hepple is working with universities, NGOs and Natural England to develop this.
Initial interventions are needed to kick-start natural processes – these include wetland restoration, removing some of the internal fencing to allow the landscape to be grazed as a whole by free-roaming cattle and ponies. Non-native conifers are being removed. Deer and squirrel numbers will continue to be controlled to encourage natural regeneration. A juniper nursery has been established to expand the population of this rare scrub species.
- Expand enterprises including a distillery, nature-based experiences, wood products and high quality meat.
- Strengthening links to neighbours to extend the connectivity.
The Rewilding Network
Hepple Wilds is part of our Rewilding Network, the go-to place for projects across Britain to connect, share and make rewilding happen on land and sea.
More about Hepple Wilds
Find out more about Hepple Wilds on their website.