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Wildwood Discovery Park Wilding Kent

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Nod, 28 Apr 2020.

  1. Nod

    Nod Active Member

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    Kent Wildlife Trust (partnered with the Wildwood Trust) have initial plans in place for a wilding project in the West Blean Woods (Kent, England). Which would involve Longhorn Cattle, Tamworth Pigs, European Bison and Wild Boar.

    A 255-hectare area would be used for the Longhorn Cattle and Tamworth Pigs, and a separate 55-hectare area would be used for European Bison and Wild Boar to graze also.

    There will be monitoring in place of the projects effects, where it aims to observe ecological impacts and interactions on the ecosystem.
    It is thought that this project will boost biological abundance and restore habitat structure.

    (Website links:
    Wilding the Blean
    Wilder Kent | Kent Wildlife Trust )

    Side note: 1 hectare = 10,000 square metres.

    ________________

    This project understandably would not happen overnight, but I am just intrigued as to whether many people knew about this.
    I personally think it would be fantastic to see how the biodiversity is adapted, through the introduction of those species in the area. What are other people's thoughts?
     
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  2. Zoonut

    Zoonut Active Member

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    Love the idea, but Tamworths and longhorned cattle is there going to be a significant barrier ie land wise so no cross contamination could accure. Just a thought.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    It's a "rewilding" project but two of the four species are domestic animals? I don't get it? I remember before my first visit to UK or Europe a co-worker did her first overseas trip to Ireland and was showing me pictures of domestic sheep grazing in a national park. My first thought is why are there domestic animals in a national park? In the United States they would be eradicated (and rightly so in my opinion) to keep from competing with wild animals.
     
  4. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    1) Because the preservation of rare domestic breeds is important.
    2) Farming exists, and in large swathes of the UK/Irish countryside is the main source of income. I suspect that if you were to tell a farmer living and working in (for instance) the Lake District National Park that you believe their stock needs to be eradicated you would the recipient of rightful scorn :p if you were lucky.
     
  5. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    In many cases domestic ungulate breeds (and particularly traditional or rare breeds) are actually functional analogues of native extinct herbivores and quite useful for rewilding and management of the land.

    Probably not replicable or advisable in North America (or South America for that matter with the notable exception of llamas and alpacas) as domesticated large hoofed mammals are comparative recent historic arrivals (what about the mustang and apaloosa in your state of Texas ? or the zebra herds in California on the land that belonged to William Randolph Hearst ? should these be eradicated in your opinion even if they have some cultural and historic salience ? ).

    Don't go to National parks in Spain then because you will see a hell of a lot of cattle / horses / goats etc. as these are given free reign of protected areas often despite being prohibited by law. In the North in places like Asturias and Cantabria free ranging livestock sometimes get devoured by wolves and bears while in the Central region of Madrid they compete with deer , wild boar, and ibex (and probably transmit disease too).

    I do agree with you though it is sad to see these compete with native ungulates and when / if they do get killed by predators (due to the negligence and arrogance of owners) such as those I've mentioned above human wildlife conflict often ensues. So often not ideal in conservation terms in the few places (obviously outside of the UK / British isles) where Europe's native apex predators and ungulates remain.
     
    Last edited: 29 Apr 2020
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  6. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yes they should be eradicated. Of course none of these are in national parks which makes it harder (in national parks they would in fact be relocated or eradicated).

    I do believe as @TeaLovingDave states there is value in preserving rare breeds of domestic animals. I guess the term "rewilding" is what gave me pause. (Full confession: I have not read the links so I am just going by the original post). If it had said something like "heritage farm project" instead of "rewilding project" I would not have commented.

    As for the farmers in places like Lake District National Park or similar, it shows that the definition of a national park in UK and Ireland is different from the definition in USA. Perhaps (and I am guessing because I don't know your system) it is because USA has more levels of federally protected land? Many lower levels do allow for livestock grazing, especially National Forests (which I don't agree with either and one of several reasons I don't eat beef). Out of curiosity, how many different designations are there in UK for land protected at the national level? Here in USA we have (to name some off the top of my head) National Park, National Historic Park, National Monument, National Seashore, National Forest, National Recreation Area, National Scenic River (or something like that), National Wildlife Refuge (where hunting is often allowed), and large swaths of federal land with no specific designation that are simply called BLM land because they are administered by the Bureau of Land Management. This of course is only federal areas; there are also state and county parks.
     
  7. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    English national parks are not national parks as you or I would understand them. They are large areas of mostly privately-owned land covering farms and towns as well woods etc. Development restrictions mean the traditional ambiance is maintained, eg if roofs are traditionally slate then you have to use slate for your roof. They are not primarily maintained for wild animal habitat.
     
  8. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Interesting , I wasn't passing any judgement on it. I was just curious as to what you believe should be done with those feral equines and whether you had any stance on them given that they do for many Americans (including Native Americans in the case of the Appaloosa) have some cultural and historical value.

    It is a complex problem defining an invasive species and its appropriate management and especially when considering all of the human and cultural dimensions. By the way I am personally more inclined to agree with you and think that they should be eradicated or culled too but then there are some (including conservationists and ecologists) who would argue passionately otherwise.
     
  9. Jennings

    Jennings Well-Known Member

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    Here's an extent example. Essentially the're using a mixture of wild and rare breed domestic species to return industrial farmland to a more natural state, and then using the resulting habitat for reintroduction projects. Reintroduced White Storks are breeding there this year.

    Home — Knepp Wildland

    AIUI in the USA a National Park is an area from which most permanent human habitation has been excised, is that correct? Over here they're essentially areas where planning restrictions are tighter than elsewhere in order to conserve natural and cultural heritage.

    Here are the other UK designations: Landscape Designations
     
    Last edited: 29 Apr 2020
  10. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    You meant the SSSI - special reserves concept?

    I do assume National Parks whereas visitor-oriented do have designated visitor zoning and buffer zone and wilderness restricted ranges?!?
     
  11. Jennings

    Jennings Well-Known Member

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    No. The only significant thing that sets them apart is their stricter planning regulations. Indeed, they tend to be tourist honeypots; the Snowdonia National Park is usually packed, whereas the neighbouring and very beautiful Denbighshire Moors have no special designation and are thus deserted even in high summer.
     
  12. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    I would say pretty much anywhere else in the world a National Park would be a natural area without any significant degree of human habitation or activity other than passive recreation. There may be allowance made for indigenous people performing traditional activities but I would say the English National Park concept is unique.
     
  13. Jennings

    Jennings Well-Known Member

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    I think I'm right in saying that they don't qualify under the IUCN definition of a national park.

    I should add that the list posted above is only of government designations. There are also large areas of privately owned nature reserve such as those belonging to the National Trust, National Trust for Scotland, and RSPB, plus Royal Parks and local authority-owned country parks.
     
    Last edited: 29 Apr 2020
  14. Mr. Zootycoon

    Mr. Zootycoon Well-Known Member

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    A very interesting discussion indeed. There are few things at play here. First of all, rewildling is not necessarily a complete lack of human influences. In general, rewilding seeks to nudge an ecosystem onto a particular trajectory that in the end would result in a more complex, biodiverse and self-sustaining system. Especially in early steps, this can involve human influences and the presence of domesticated animals. In North America, rewilding often has links with (apex) predators while in Europe "natural grazing" is more prominent, where free-ranging animals are used to keep areas open.

    Furthermore, several species that are thought to have been important ecosystem engineers only survive in domesticated forms, e.g. cattle and horses. Hardy native breeds or "de-domesticated" variants can replace these extinct species as they are believed to have roughly similar influences on the ecosystem. This may be why the cattle are used. Using actualy wild animals can also lead to societal conflict. Wild boar, for example, are often feared and unwanted in western Europe (though their fearsome reputation is mostly undeserved I think). A hardy breed of domesticated pig may be useful to get at least some of the ecological benefits without the societal costs.

    Finally, lots of European conservation groups try to protect so-called semi-natural areas, which are bascially agricultural landscapes from the past, as they believe they are particularly biodiverse* and they represent cultural heritage. To get the ecosystems that resulted from past agricultural methods, some of the methods should be brought back, such as keeping livestock. Sheep are often used for this (in Germany and parts of the Netherlands, mouflon are also used as they are more "wild").

    * There's quite a lot of debate around this. Some ecologists have critiqued this view, saying that these semi-natural areas are simply particularly rich in butterflies, carabid beetles, bees and wildflowers, which are relatively easy species to find/identify and their richness is thus often used as a proxy for biodiversity.
     
  15. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    Yes, British national parks are not at all what most of the rest of world would call a national park. They are primarily designed to keep areas looking pretty, not to keep them wild. It is a major issue as it gives the impression those are natural environments and many of them are very far from it - a very definite bone of contention among UK conservationists. The Peak District, which begins only a few miles from my house and was the first area in the country to be called a national park, protects an area dominated by sheep grazing and grouse moors. It's very pretty, and there's wildlife there if you know where to look, but nothing like what should be there.

    That said, there are human-altered habitats that are crucial for UK wildlife now because (bluntly) we've been fouling up our habitats for so long. Heavily-grazed grassland by (domestic) sheep and (introduced 2000ish years ago) rabbits are crucial for many small flowering plants and insects. So some of this type of area is a requirement to maintain biodiversity on this strange island.
     
  16. Jennings

    Jennings Well-Known Member

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    It's also worth bearing in mind that some of the domestic breeds used in such projects have been feral for so long as to be essentially wild animals: Soay Sheep, some types of White Park Cattle, Wild Goats, and so on.
     
  17. DesertRhino150

    DesertRhino150 Well-Known Member

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    To be honest, the domestic cattle (standing in for extinct native aurochs) are more native to Britain than the European bison is - they have never been found in Britain's fossil record and I'm not sure if they even could have been native, what I have read indicates they possibly evolved after Britain became an island.

    On the topic of National Parks - with the exception of the New Forest (which, notably, is the only one with large populations free-roaming horses and cattle) and the Norfolk Broads (which are the flooded remains of Medieval peat diggings and not a 'natural' habitat), all of them more than likely have less wildlife than the surrounding countryside as they are intensively managed for either sheep raising, deer and grouse shooting or plantation forestry.

    Certainly, I think Britain is the only country on earth where the concept of turning its capital into a 'National Park City' would not be immediately laughed out.
     
  18. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    So are there any large nature reserves in the UK, whatever they may be called?
     
  19. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    There are protected areas but nothing on the scale of a national park and there is a hugely over-complicated system of different types of designation, with different degrees of protection and access. A SSSI (triple-es-eye - Site of Special Scientific Interest) is theoretically the highest level of protection I think, but even that is no guarantee that there won't be development affecting it and they are often part of working farms or forests - accidental destruction is a fate more than one has met.
     
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  20. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    There's a nice list of larger English SSSIs on Wikipedia:
    List of the largest Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England - Wikipedia

    Only two are over 100,000 acres - one of those is mostly marine tidal flats and the other is fragmented around roads and towns in one of our 'national parks'.

    Most protected spaces exclusively for wildlife in England are small patches - but there are a lot of them.
     
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