The English charity healing nature

The Nature charity Heal is planning to buy land across England for the sole purpose of rewilding it.

Launched at the start of the pandemic, Heal's mission is to create wild reserves in each of the 48 English counties by 2050. Approximately 25,000 acres will be protected to allow local wildlife to flourish. The first location, 460 acres bought near Bruton, will be called "Heal Somerset", and will help tackle the nature and climate crises, as well as create local jobs at the site.

A series of introductory events has already been held to discuss the project, respond to questions and outline some of the opportunities it could offer local people. Initial project ideas are areas for food growing and nature learning for children, wildflower meadow creation, planting a community orchard, and an indoor meeting space for use by community groups.

The plans for rewilding aim to restore natural processes for nature to take care of itself without any human intervention. To do so, small numbers of rare breed cattle, pigs and ponies will be used to graze the land in a natural way. These animals will be ‘ecosystem engineers’ and not farmed produce. Regenerative trees and plants will also be grown in the area to create a varied, healthy ecosystem. A mosaic of habitats – trees, scrub, grassland, bare earth and water – will ensure the greatest diversity of plant and animal species.

Some of the funding for this first site was achieved through Heal's unique "Heal 3x3" scheme. For £20, you can sponsor a 3x3 metre square of land for them to bring back to life through rewilding. Once the mapping is complete, sponsors receive a unique address of their square. Each sponsorship lasts a year and can be continued year on year for a small upkeep fee. Funds will also be raised through eco-tourism, educational courses and events at the sites.
Support from major donors will be required to repay the loans and acquire more lands to achieve their long-term goals.

Heal's co-founder, Jon Stannard, said that "[they] have had support from thousands of people and more than 20 businesses, who believed in [them] when all [they] had was a vision for what could be achieved. This is the news people have all been waiting for and [they] are so grateful for their trust and backing. Now [they] need many more people to support [them] so that we can achieve [their] bigger goals.

Though it will take many years for nature to fully recover, they're hoping to see small positive signs of recovery immediately such as an increase in insect numbers, growth of plants including tree saplings, and a greater abundance and diversity of species, and then more visible changes in the next couple of years.

If you'd like to find out more about Heal and donate, visit their website.

Léa's takeaway

With Earth Day coming up on the 22nd April, this is the perfect opportunity to shout about these fantastic initiatives that try to restore some of our ecosystem and fight the climate crisis. I always feel so lucky to live in the UK where so many diverse landscapes are on our doorstep!

If, like me, you're a bit of a nerd for nature, have a look at Sir David Attenborough's latest series, "Wild Isles", a wonderful tribute to Britain's wildlife.

Blog Author: Léa Gorniak -  Apr 10th 2023

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