The UK Government and Devolved Administrations should “incentivise rewilding, where appropriate, as part of its net zero strategy”, according to a new report published today (24 November 2023) led by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (GRI). 

The report, ‘Exploring the carbon sequestration potential of rewilding in the UK: policy and data needs to support net zero’, also calls for UK policymakers to “improve the evidence base for rewilding so it can be included in decarbonisation and greenhouse gas removal strategies.” 

Rewilding is an approach within nature recovery that recognises the intrinsic value of nature and wild spaces when restoring degraded ecosystems. Rewilding differs from traditional nature restoration approaches by advocating a low intervention, location specific strategies with ultimate goals to support, at scale, ecosystems to become self-sustaining, self-organising and resilient with minimal long-term human intervention.

Current evidence gaps mean that the full spectrum of rewilding transitions are not represented in national greenhouse gas abatement plans . The authors state that at present “opportunities exist to invest in filling this evidence gap by utilising satellite data, drone and radar applications to better clarify and monitor the role of rewilding within net zero.” 

The report details why rewilding projects should be multi-functional and target delivery of carbon sequestration, biodiversity and landscape resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Leo Mercer draws attention to how rewilding and other nature-based solutions (NbS) will be “vital in counterbalancing residual emissions from hard-to-abate sectors to reach (and maintain) net zero”. 

The authors also state that the “UK Government and devolved administrations should consider the merits of nominating, or creating, an organisation to capture and manage carbon and greenhouse gas flux data from rewilding.”

The report also mentions how “access to agri-environmental incentives should be fair and support a just transition in rural communities including recognising the importance of continued food production.”

Leo Mercer, Policy Analyst at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: 

“Rewilding, when used appropriately and correctly, can help the Government reach net zero faster while achieving important environmental goals by building landscape resilience and supporting nature recovery. 

“The Government needs to precisely define what rewilding means in a UK context and then support researchers to plug evidence gaps to better understand how rewilding can contribute to net zero. 

“Where rewilding has demonstrable support by local communities and landowners, it should be incentivised as part of the government’s net zero strategy in the land sector which needs to emphasise emissions abatement and landscape resilience.” 


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