Rewilding is a good way to help ‘people, wildlife and farmers’, campaigners have claimed, but rural leaders disagree.
This came after the publication of a new Government report where Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom reviewed potential solutions to reduce the chances of flood-risk.
Rewilding Britain flood-risk campaigner Brenda Pollack responded to the report, suggesting although the report contained ’no action on schemes that work with nature’, rewilding had already been successful throughout the country on farmland as ’farmers have a role to play’ in environmental changes.
However, the claims were dismissed by rural leaders as not a suitable option.
Rewilding Britain said it hoped to find a solution that placed nature centre stage to better manage the UK environment post-Brexit.
Ms Pollack said: “Rewilding Britain agreed with MPs that famers should be paid for land and water management that helps reduce water risk.
“We are not saying a whole farm has to be rewilded, we are simply offering techniques to improve the quality of land and reduce flood-risk”.
The Rewilding Britain report stated the most inexpensive and sustainable way to manage flood-risk is to restore natural processes to help bring the economy towards carbon neutrality.
But the government is yet to agree.
CLA forestry and woodlands adviser Mike Seville said: “Some form of rewilding may have a role to play in the countryside but this should not be land abandonment, more of a managed move towards a wilder but still productive landscape.
“Land use of land management change such as tree and hedge planting, woodland creation, environment buffer strips or sacrificial runoff areas next to watercourses will deliver similar or better benefits over a shorter timescale.”
Rewilding Britain suggested problems were likely to occur when land was overgrazed, rivers were straightened and trees and wildlife were removed.
Ms Pollack said people should not be anxious about the re-introduction of wildlife like beavers because they were “ecological engineers” that help restore wetlands and slow water flows.
But Mr Seville said there were better ways to manage flooding: “Rewilding could have a role to play in flood-risk management but in the short to medium term it will be the change in vegetation that would bring the greatest impact.”