Embercombe’s first Rewilding Camp

Niusia WinczewskaMonday, September 6, 2021

A group from across the UK felt the tug of wanting to rewild themselves and the land around them and came to connect and explore rewilding on our wild land in Devon.

Coming together for 4 days from 16 – 19 August, our kick off Rewilding Camp marked the start of a new rewilding direction for Embercombe. Together we learned how to heal ecosystems and ourselves, connecting with the land and each other. We gathered for the first of these camps in partnership with Ecosystem Restoration Camps (ERC), a global grassroots movement that aspires to get people from all walks of life learning and working together to restore degraded land around the world. The camp was split into 4 themes for the 4 days: Exploring Rewilding, Flora and Fauna, Rewilding the Self, and Rewilding Society. Together we learnt about what rewilding is and what it means for a context where humanity plays a key role and is embedded into the landscape, rather than fenced out of it. We learnt from top practitioners in this field such as Laura Fairs, our new Rewilding Lead at Embercombe, as she took us through what rewilding is and how it can be implemented on a small scale, sharing Embercombe’s rewilding vision.

We had the chance to ‘meet our kin’, getting to know what is already living at Embercombe (trees, birds, plants) and how they interact with each other. As part of the week we visited rewilding pioneer Derek Gow’s rewilding project Rewilding Coombeshead where wild boar, water buffalo and beavers roam freely, a snapshot of what species this island once held and could hold again and a pioneering example of how land can regenerate and heal. Participants learnt about the importance of data collection, soil sampling, biodiversity monitoring with butterflies and moths and bats.

Participants also connected and played together, releasing our inner child and wild ones with Alana Bloom from Regenerating Rhythms and Gaia Harvey Jackson, both experienced facilitators of practices that helped us tune in what inner rewilding looks, smells, and feels like and how you can incorporate these into your everyday lives. We also enjoyed an our evening of storytales of the wild things from storyteller Lisa Schneidau.

We learnt to how rewrite children’s stories with ERC’s Ashleigh Brown so that we can start to tell new, more empowered stories to our children that can transform the way our future society thinks and feels about the wilderness.Our Rewilding Camps will continue to offer a series of practical learning opportunities for people to be involved in the transformation of their land, however large or small. As the first ERC camp based in the UK, our group returned with a renewed energy to restore and rewild both self and society and we now just can’t wait for the Autumn and Winter Rewilding Camps!