MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee were told managed rewilding and sustainable food production go hand in hand by a range of ecological experts this week.
The academics giving evidence said Brexit gave Britain an opportunity to shape a support scheme which supports both wildlife and food production – promising rewilding projects would stop short of introducing wolves to the Scottish highlands.
Their views were supported by NFU vice president Guy Smith, who said: “If farmers can generate profit from their businesses then they are in the best position to manage the wider environment they farm.
“If the market does not allow this then they will need incentives, schemes or to be remunerated when they take productive land out of production.”
The experts also claimed rewilding would give upland farmers access to multiple income streams if it is included in Government policy, though they agreed this would mean a ‘reduction in human intervention’ on previously managed landscapes.
Professor Richard Brazier from the University of Exeter said: “Rewilded areas help to mitigate soil erosion, diffuse pollution and flash flooding that we see from intensive agriculture, so as far as I can see the two go hand in hand.”
Professor Sue Hartley from the British Ecological Society agreed, saying: “There is an opportunity to look for win wins. It would be good to get away from the dichotomy of intensive production and rewilding, it is more integrated than that.”