The rewilding plan that would return Britain to nature

The UK has lost almost all its native wildlife, especially its forests and big animals. Rewilding would bring back everything from beavers to bears.

Britain once looked very different. In place of sheep-strewn fields and treeless uplands, there were vast natural forests, glades and wild spaces. Within them, wolves, bears and lynx roamed the land. The first Britons lived alongside woolly mammoths, great auks and wild cows called aurochs.

All that is now gone. Humans chopped down the trees to make space for farms, and hunted the large animals to extinction, leaving plant-eaters to decimate the country’s flora. Britain is now one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have top predators.

No matter how much we may think England’s green and pleasant countryside is “natural”, it is a pale shadow of what once was – and what could be again.

If some conservationists have their way, parts of the UK could be restored to a truly wild state. This “rewilding” would bring back animals and plants that have been lost, and allow them to roam freely. In these new wild spaces, people could reconnect with animals and plants in a way no park or zoo could ever manage. But it’s also a hugely controversial idea.

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