Although the reintroduction of exotic or long-lost species usually makes the rewilding headlines, RSK Wilding’s Stephanie Wray recently spoke to The Scotsman to discuss the importance of smaller rewilding interventions. “With much of the focus on bringing in ‘superstar’ species at the top of the ladder,” she said, “we risk losing sight of the fact that rewilding requires a ground-up, as well as a top-down approach in order for the whole biodiversity chain to thrive.”

In Scotland, for example, there have been several successful rewilding efforts, from golden eagles in the Highlands rearing offspring to beavers being successfully returned to the wild. However, “rewilding can be anything from reintroducing the likes of wolves to an area to more basic interventions,” Stephanie explained, “such as digging ponds, introducing dormice or beavers to a site, planting trees or reinstating peatland, or simply leaving land to ‘do its own thing’.” And the more familiar species are just as important as the more exciting ones that create the headlines.

“Water voles, for example, improve bankside plant diversity through the creation of their burrow networks, crucial for a thriving wetland ecosystem. Hedgehogs are an indicator species for the wider health of the environment because they feed on soil invertebrates, so a significant fall in numbers suggests that the quality of the natural world has substantially decreased.

“The crucial thing is that we need a whole system approach,” Stephanie concludes.

You can read Stephanie’s full article, ‘Rewilding Scotland: Hopes of returning bison, wolves and lynx should not overshadow loss of less high-profile species,’ at The Scotsman online.