Laura FairsWednesday, July 28, 2021
The land at Embercombe is special. For over 20 years Embercombe has run programmes, camps and events, close to the land and in the simplicity of nature. It offers people from all walks of life a place to connect, to regenerate, to reconsider.
The impact of humans is changing the world around us, so we at Embercombe are changing too. We are responding to the urgent need to take action for our climate and our land. We are moving on from seeing the site as a place to grow food for humans to a place where we are actively encouraging natural regeneration in order to restore a greater balance with nature. We are adopting a rewilding approach to our management, shifting focus and resources from annual food cultivation for humans, to nature restoration and the opportunities it will offer for reconnection between people and the land.
Rewilding can mean many things to different people. We plan to explore many of these as part of our rewilding plans, not just rewilding from a nature conservation point of view.
- Ecological restoration, allowing natural processes to be more dominant rather than purely adopting interventionist practices. Being more ‘hands-off’ with our management. Resisting the need to hold the site in a set state or preserving specific species. Not having a set end point in mind for our land but embracing change and dynamism within our habitats.
- Place-based exploration – what does it mean to connect with this land? How does this land shape our experiences? What do we have, what can we provide more of through a wilder landscape?
INVITING THE WILD BACK
- Changing our relationship with nature. Letting go of our preconceived ideas about what we want, and allowing nature to lead the way. Valuing and appreciating the abundance of life, in all its forms. Noticing the intersection and integration with nature in what we do.
- Inviting the wild back into our lives. Reconnecting with what it means to be integrated with the wild and how we respond to the wild things around us. Remembering stories and our wilder culture. Honouring the wild.
- Connecting with other people and land in our Valley, and beyond, who are making space for nature (rewilding or otherwise). Supporting others in our landscape to provide a network of abundance for nature, wildlife and people. Sharing our journey of rewilding so others can learn, critique and benefit.
- We will be calling on experts from our country and further afield to help us teach, facilitate and deliver a wide range of programmes about rewilding and regeneration. From practical skills-based training and workshops to more philosophical, imaginative and community-focussed aspects of our lives.
We know that for a rewilding site, we are relatively small. Our process is likely to require more input and man-made, possibly arbitrary, decisions to steer the direction of the rewilding. For example, what sort of livestock might we introduce or remove, how many animals, do we plant trees, should we cut paths, should we strim bramble to keep wildflower areas clear, do we reintroduce lost species (if so which ones?), do we remove hazardous trees, do we open up the woodland… the list goes on.
This spectrum of how, where and when we step back and when to intervene is the very essence of what Embercombe can offer to the rewilding debate. How we navigate our own rewilding, what choices we make and why, can be shared with others. We hope to make some positive choices: we may make some poor choices, but as long as we are doing so consciously then they will all be valid in our story.
Our new Rewilding Lead
In order to drive this urgent work forward Embercombe has a new Rewilding Lead, Laura Fairs. Drawn to Embercombe to be a part of all aspects of its rewilding action, Laura has been working in nature conservation for over 20 years, and has recently joined Embercombe from the Wildlife Trust.
Having previously worked on nature reserves, farm land and river catchments from 1 acre through to landscapes of 5000 acres, Laura believes far-reaching action is needed to sustain nature’s abundance that is so important to us. People’s connection with nature is more important than ever if that action is to take place.
Laura says “whilst there is so much great working going on, the wild things around us are still being squeezed out and lost. We face the prospect that the wild things we considered to be common are now joining the ever-increasing list of rarities. I believe the rewilding work at Embercombe has an important role to play as we navigate the process of how we can better share our lives with nature so that it is not being eroded. To find a way to allow the wild back into our spaces, stepping back and allowing nature to show us the way.”