Whether you call it rewilding or wilding, this is about enabling the natural processes to take place that create biological diversity both appropriate to and sustainable for that location. The landscape is therefore allowed to recover from years of degradation from our actions, however well intentioned.
Jordan’s Farm will contribute to the national and global effort to reduce greenhouse gasses through carbon sequestration into the soil and increase biodiversity and soil health.
The cost of not looking after our environment today will be greater in the future for todays teenagers, never mind 3-4 generations down the line. I doubt they will look back kindly on us if we fail.
21 acres, a field known as the ‘Outback’ will be ‘re-wilded’ to contribute to the task in front of us.
Rewilding is in effect allowing the natural process to establish itself in a given area so the resultant ecosystem is suitable for the conditions of that landscape. Minimal assistance is preferable however given that (a) the animals that would have once regulated and enabled diversity in our landscape are now gone, and (b) there are on-site constraints, the site will need to be actively managed.
Rewilding offers a public good in the form of environmental benefits which in turn positively mitigates threats to our way of life. However, currently economically quantifying the value of these after constant human exploitation is difficult, because we have never done so. We have taken and exploited and not cared for the world that gives us life.
To rewild costs money. The cost includes the cost of not using the land for another agricultural income, the value of not developing the land, the cost of managing the area. In addition, the economic costs of exploiting the natural environment (using rivers as sewers for example) have not to date been taken into account when measuring profit and loss of business.
Therefore, to fund this, portions of the land will be ‘sold’ on an annual basis to individuals and business who want to support this process and become a ‘guardian’ for a year. We invite you to join us on this journey and help us to help make things better.
Benefits of Rewilding
Rewilding land will help to address climate change and biodiversity loss in the UK. The two are interlinked. They are the global crisis of our time which we must successfully address at every level if the human race is to have a future with minimal temperature and sea level rises, without extreme weather events, food and health impacts and resultant war, famine and migration which will result. Rewilding is one part of the puzzle.
Increase Local Biodiversity
Biodiversity matters everywhere, not just on the plains of Africa or in the Amazon. We need it to thrive here too in the UK where we have the most depleted natural environment in Europe.
From microorganisms to top predators, from algae to 500 hundred year old Oaks this extensive and complex web of life matters. They underpin all life on earth, they enable our human life. When we remove part of that complex web it has a knock on effect. Soon, if we continue to pollute the air and use poisons we will understand what life is like without pollinating insects – for example not as much food for humans. Equally if keep overusing medications in our livestock then we poison the beetles that turn animal manure into fertile soil. The soil degrades and we are unable to grow crops, again not as much food for humans
When we loose a species, plant or animal, we loose genetic material, which we are only now understanding the value of. Should a reliable wheat crop fail then we need back up variety’s of wheat to return to and rediscover a hopefully resistant gene pool. Who knows how many medicines lie flattened and burnt as the Amazon is destroyed at a rate of a football pitch a minute?
Biodiversity loss takes away nature’s capacity to support itself and the human race. We are a part of the the biological web not separate from it. We must protect it and enable it to recover.
The IPPC Climate Change Report (Aug 2021) has now said “unequivocally” that climate change is man made. Levels of Carbon Dioxide, the key greenhouse gas in the atmosphere must be reduced. Sea level rise is now inevitable and so is temperature rise but we must stop it getting worse.
Two approaches are required. Reduce production of CO2 and capture it wherever possible.
Ploughing releases carbon from the soil into the atmosphere. If the soil is not turned over, and if the plant matter which has grown (and through the process of photosynthesis captured carbon in its cell structure), is allowed to break down back into the earth then the carbon content of the soil builds back up.
Trees are planted to capture carbon but: (a) trees that are planted rather than self seeded grow more slowly, and (b) trees that we planted generate carbon as they are transported to site and in our utilisation of plastic tree guards. So, how long is it before a planted tree can be said to to be removing carbon from the atmosphere after these carbon credits have been deducted? If we allow trees to regenerate naturally it is now thought that the carbon capture is much greater.
What about grassland? The organisation ‘Grasslands Plus’ tells us that up to 30% of the earth’s carbon is stored in grassland carbon sinks, so grasslands are now understood to be every bit as important as forests and other ecosystems in the fight against climate change.
Wilding is one part of the solution to sequester carbon and minimise the damage from climate change.
This area of Essex is heavily populated. Roads are being expanded, an incinerator is due to be built approximately 12km SW of here. Incinerators put the same PM2s and heavy metal contaminants into the air as diesel engines.
Respiratory disease, greenhouse gasses, chemicals that prevent pollinators from pollinating to name a hand full of the negative outcomes of air pollution.
The plants and the trees that we have have a lot of work to do to clean up after us. We need more.
Increase Insects and Pollinators
We should have learnt by that all insects, not just bees are in decline. It was at least 20 years ago when I last remember having to wash the car windscreen in summer to remove the dead bodies of flying insects.
Enabling a healthy ecosystem will help them to thrive and the pollinators in the Outback will service the borage and rape fields next door to me and help provide food for us. That is reason number one why we cannot allow them to decline in the way they are. Here are some more:
- Many plants rely on insects to disperse their seed.
- We need beetles and flies to decompose plant and animal matter.
- Insects are food for other animals, bats and birds for example. We are now looking at eating them as an alternative protein source ourselves.
- Biological control and to maintain ecological balance. Insects, like the Ladybird predates on pest insects such as green fly, others such as the Cinnabar Moth caterpillar control potentially invasive plants like Ragwort.
It is believed that 40% of insects across the world could become extinct in the not so distant future due to habitat loss. This is a scary statistic as they are vital to life on this planet. Wilding the Outback will help conserve our native insects and give them a home.
Flood and Drought Mitigation
Flooding is no longer the headline news it was a few years ago. It is an annual occurrence no matter what the season in the UK now and in between we can go for months without rain. The Environment Agency tell us that in Essex we are in drought in the middle of a flood because we have been using underground aquifers for decades to meet our water requirements. When those aquifers run out….
So how can wilding help? Well, its about holding that water where it falls. Water runs off concrete, plastic grass and even fields and hilltops which are compacted from grazing animals and heavy machinery. It is channelled into our water courses which have been straightened and flood plains are farmed or built on. The water shoots downstream then hits a obstacle, and floods the nearest town or village. We also lose that water out to sea, but we won’t lose as much if it is retained in the land or in ponds and lower ground next to rivers.
When the ground is not compacted, and trees roots penetrate the earth they create a route for water to peculate back into the soil. If we can expand the former ponds on the field (sadly we don’t have a watercourse), then we can hold more of the rain when it does fall on the land before it gets to the River Colne. When we get another 4 months of no rain the ground will have more water in the land and so the plants will have greater resilience during the drought.
It appears that we will have to cope with continued increased high rainfall events, so we need to increase the amount of natural flood management solutions everywhere from the hills to the river bank to mitigate the problems and get the water back into the ground. If we really want help no one does it better than Mr & Mrs Beaver!
Regenerating the Soil
Our soil has built up over millennia. A healthy soil should be full of worms, fungi and microorganisms. The minerals and nutrients that are drawn up by plants to help them grow and then end up on our dinner table keeping us healthy are are being depleted.
Pesticides and fungicides that control ‘pest’ species also kill the good microorganisms and fungi . Ploughing the soil chops up worms and kills them. Every time we harvest a crop and removed all trace of the crop from the soil nothing can break down and return into the soil. This is what we are doing as we try to farm more and more productively, and produce more from one area of soil. To enable the next crop to grow more chemical fertilisers are needed as the nutrients in the soils have been depleted. The result is a tired soil, one which has little life to produce life. The vegetables that we produce have fewer nutrients in them than they used to. We need to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients than we used to. That’s a new argument to get your children to eat thier sprouts on Christmas day!
A healthy soil underpins the life above it, we need to nurture our soil.
Your Heath: Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing.
Yes, I know we are lucky to live here working on this project. The ‘green’ and the physical work involved has huge health benefits to us personally. But, I have been ‘working’ on complementary projects all my life leading to this one. Gardening as a teenager where I learnt that a sunny wildflower mix does not work under the shade of shrubs. As a Landscape Architect working in rural but mostly urban locations and new developments, trying at every opportunity to ‘shoehorn’ in as much green and ecological value as possible. Then on a Neighbourhood Plan for my local parish, again the environmental policy. On campaigns around air pollution from incineration and organising Eco Fairs.
In short I have recognised the innate value for our mental and physical health from ‘green’ for many years be it on your door step or miles away. We need it. We need it close by to look at, to clean our air and keep us cool. We need far away and in huge quantities on the land and in the sea to provide the ecosystem services that we require for this planet to function. If we improve our environment the reduction in costs to our health service will be enormous. Deep down we know we need it. If not why were tree lined streets always the most expensive and why has there been a rush out of flats and gardenless houses wherever possible following lock down in the pandemic?