Rewilding is all about letting nature be spontaneous, dynamic, and unpredictable. Rather than trying to manage and control which plants, animals, and habitats thrive, it is about sitting back and letting nature decide. This can be done in your back garden or in a massive nature reserve.
If you speak to rewilders, and we have spoken to a few, the thing they all seem to have in common is that they celebrate the unexpected species that are now doing well in their wild patch. For example, at Knepp Wildlands in Sussex it is the unexpected success of nightingales, purple emperor butterflies, and turtle doves since this farm has gone wild that bring the most excitement. This is because their return and success are down to nature doing its own thing and it is teaching us new things about how these species live.
While targeted conservation of rare and iconic species is massively important, rewilding recognises the importance of giving more space for nature to do its own thing. These two approaches are complementary and can really support each other. Traditional conservation practices are helping species hang on. We can use rewilding to increase the number, size and connectivity of nature areas. If we do this, the wildlife hanging on in conservation areas can move out into the newly rewilded space for nature. This extra space will allow these rare species now to increase in number and so help conserve them. The increasing number of species in rewilding areas will revive the natural processes (like pollination, seed dispersal, and grazing) that allows nature to look after all the species in the ecosystem.
So, rewilding is all about creating more space for nature to do its own thing. And in giving up control of nature we are able to put ourselves back into natural systems at least some of the time and reap the benefits of reconnecting with the diversity, richness, and surprises of the natural world.