eurasian-lynxThe Countryside Alliance has raised concerns about the Environmental Audit Committee report into The Future of the Natural Environment after the EU Referendum, published today (4th January 2017). The Alliance argues that the report will create further confusion due to its approach to ‘rewilding’.

The report recognises that rewilding is a “contested term” with definitions ranging from complete land abandonment to species reintroduction (including apex predators), however it also adopts an extremely vague definition that reflects the confused thinking about its meaning and therefore its usefulness as a concept in environmental policy.

Commenting on the report, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Tim Bonner said:

Though we are glad that the report acknowledges the evidence base for rewilding is insufficient and that it doesn’t include a commitment towards rewilding amongst its seven recommendations, we have a number of concerns with the report regarding the confused thinking relating to the concept. The Committee’s preferred definition could mean almost anything and seems to ignore the fact that most of our richest and best-loved landscapes were man-made and are maintained by farmers and land managers.

“In particular we are concerned by the report’s suggestion that rewilding “may arise out of necessity” if changes to subsidy payments or unfavourable trade deals “lead to less land being viable for profitable farming”. This statement suggests sacrificing some of the UK’s most important cultural landscapes, and the communities within them, in favour of ill-defined land use policy which the report itself suggests has an “insufficient” evidence base.

“Policy makers need to focus on proven conservation management and the creation of a post-Brexit agricultural policy based on agri-environmental payments, rather than being seduced by trendy and unworkable proposals.”

  1. Countryside Alliance written evidence: http://www.countryside-alliance.org/environmental-audit-committee-rewilding/
  2. A copy of the Environmental Audit Committee report (published 4th January 2017): http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/599/599.pdf

Committee summary: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news-parliament-2015/natural-environment-after-eu-report-published-16-17/