Forget the fine art: Investors urged to invest their money in rewilding | Preservation

Forget about gold, vintage wines and fine art: Investors and landowners are welcome to invest their money in Tamworth pigs, Dalmatian pelicans and beaver ponds.

The Société Immobilière Sauvage claims it has already pledged tens of millions of pounds to acquire land to rewild, restore biodiversity, store carbon – and generate healthy returns for investors.

The ‘natural capital’ start-up, which was launched in the rehabilitated Somerset farm owned by environmentalist and fund manager Ben Goldsmith, aims to create more than 100,000 acres of wilderness across Britain by 2030.

Ben Macdonald, Nature Restoration Manager for Real Wild Estates, said: “When you come back to Britain from places like Yellowstone, it’s like walking into an art gallery where the paintings have been ripped off. from the wall. Our duty is to return these paintings. Would love to see a Norfolk Broads with Dalmatian Pelicans and a Caledonian forest where lynxes keep deer in check.

Macdonald, the author of Rebirding, a rewilding study, said nature was in a state of emergency and recovery could only happen on a large scale, persuading large landowners and investment funds to devote vast swathes of land. land for wildlife restoration.

Real Wild Estates will be hired by landowners and investors to acquire land and oversee rewilding for profit. He expects the redeveloped land to generate diversified income streams from tourism, glamping and rewilding safaris, and the post-Brexit government environmental land management plans, as well as payments for biodiversity and carbon offsets whereby companies pay to sequester carbon through nature restoration.

The cost of carbon offsetting is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade, especially with companies keen to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero but not understanding how to do it. Developers will pay landowners to rewild to meet the new environmental bill requirement that the new subdivisions lead to a “net gain” in biodiversity.

A safari at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex. Last year his ecotourism business brought in almost £ 1million. Photography: Knepp estate

Julian Matthews, founder of the Real Wild Estates Company, said that instead of UK companies paying for flawed carbon offset projects in faraway countries where forest restoration programs could not be easily verified, his company would help businesses sequester carbon and restore nature closer to home.

“Isn’t it better to bring sequestration to where the carbon comes from?” Let’s put it in our own landscapes, ”he said.

Critics of rewilding say it is removing food production as well as rural jobs – and traditional farmers – from the land. However, Real Wild Estates said it would target “marginal” land that produced little food, and that a key part of its business model was to provide more rural jobs.

According to charity Rewilding Britain, there has been a 54% increase in jobs in 32 fields in England that have embraced rewilding, with new roles including Safari Guides and Hybrid Livestock Manager Environmentalists to care for pigs, cattle and horses in freedom and the landscape at large.

The 1,416.4 hectares (3,500 acres) Knepp domain in West Sussex employed 23 people as a conventional farm, but after being rescued it has 47 employees, and another 200 people are employed in companies that rent out its converted farm buildings. Its ecotourism business brought in almost £ 1million last year.

Matthews said: “There is one job per 7 km / m² in the Highlands – there are no jobs for rural communities. We aim to bring back jobs. According to his company’s modeling, a contract farmer employed to manage 400 hectares could be replaced in five years by a rewilding program employing 35 people.

A report by the Green Finance Institute calculates that there is a funding gap of up to £ 97 billion between government commitments to restore biodiversity and achieve net zero in Britain and available public money. According to analysts at the Green Finance Institute, this gap will have to be closed by private investment.

Real Wild Estates backers include L’Oréal, which is investing in the new company through its regeneration fund, a € 50 million jar to help restore 1 million hectares of degraded ecosystems and capture up to 20 million tonnes of CO2, potentially creating hundreds of jobs.

According to Matthews, investors want to invest their money in “the space of natural capital”, with consumer demand for wilderness vacations and wellness, the public’s desire to act to save nature and new ones. payments for soil restoration, flood prevention and carbon sequestration. in the environmental bill.

Matthews said he was inspired by his experiences with nature restoration and rewilding in southern Africa. “We all think it’s new, but it’s been happening all over the world with great success for a long time. My goal with the Real Wild Estates Company is to make nature restoration profitable and viable.

“Rewilding isn’t about having wolves on your doorstep, it’s going back to what our grandparents would have considered perfectly normal. If I can’t make it work, I have to be shot because we have some real winds behind us for this to happen. “


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