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Wilder Nunwell

Improving water quality through rewilding

Small copper butterfly perched on grass blade at Wilder Little Duxmore rewilding project, Isle of Wight
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Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust acquired management of 143 hectares of the Nunwell Estate in 2022. Former arable land, it is now rewilding to support nature recovery. So far, the site has found 65 bird species, including skylark, mistle thrush, and linnet. 24 butterfly species have been found so far including brown argus, clouded yellow, green- veined white and small heath.

Supported through the Nutrient Neutrality scheme, an important element of the project is storing water and reducing nutrients downstream and into the Solent. The Trust’s nutrient reduction scheme was set up to show how nature-based solutions can help mitigate and reduce the impact of nutrient pollution in the Solent from planned housing developments, whilst creating habitat for wildlife through rewilding.


Initial interventions will be focused on pond and scrape creation and holding water on the site. The aim of this is to slow the flow and filter the water before it enters the Solent. In addition to this, grazing animals have been introduced to create a mosaic of habitats, combined with some tree planting and grassland creation.

A comprehensive programme of ecological monitoring is also being carried out annually, in order to evidence the changes on site and inform future management. Surveys include assessment of bioindicator populations and vegetation, as well as monitoring nutrient loads in the soil.

future plans

  1. Continue ecological and environmental monitoring
  2. Monitor the health and wellbeing impacts of rewilding and engage with local communities
  3. Consider species reintroductions targeting species lost from the area subject to comprehensive assessment and review. Duke of Burgundy and Brown hairstreak both being considered.
Small copper butterfly perched on grass blade at Wilder Little Duxmore rewilding project, Isle of Wight
 © /

The Rewilding Network

Wilder Nunwell 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.

Discover the Rewilding Network

More about Wilder Nunwell

Find out more about Wilder Nunwell on their website.

Visit Wilder Nunwell website