Where will we be in 30 years? Will the 2020s be seen as a turning point, or is it already too late?
After all, we are losing biodiversity faster than ever and are also in the midst of a climate emergency. So, the key question is, will what we are doing now in relation to biodiversity net gain, habitat restoration and rewilding make more of a difference over the next 30 years? How wild will we be in 2050? Will we have saved the planet, or will Earth be an ecological wasteland dominated by cockroaches, pigeons, rats and jellyfish?
We are at a turning point in the history of our planet. The decade 2021–2030 is the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – and not a moment too soon. At last, people and governments have realised that something really needs to be done, and done now. Alongside climate change, biodiversity has muscled its way into the heart of the political agenda. One aspect, in particular, has captured the public imagination: barely a day goes by without a news story about rewilding. But is this going to be just another environmental fad, or is rewilding here to stay? And do we have the room for true rewilding in the UK, or will it require a hybrid approach combining rewilding with traditional conservation?
In this article, I consider whether the current obsessions with biodiversity net gain, habitat restoration and, specifically, rewilding will last the test of time so that, by 2050, a significantly greater proportion of our land and sea has been restored to a more natural condition. The concept of rewilding has clearly captured the public imagination, and wider engagement with people will be essential if we are to properly tackle the biodiversity crisis.
Read the full article: How wild will we be in 2050? Originally produced for and featured in CIEEM In Practice magazine.