I’m a supporter of re-wilding but unless this is allied to a wider democratisation of nature, then it is always going to meet resistance in precisely those places where it needs allies.
I’d be more sympathetic if I thought these folk had done their homework, but the signs are not good: it’ll be an “open natural laboratory”. 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️
Look, we’ve been through this movie before. It’s what Julian Huxley said about St Kilda in the ‘30s. The lab metaphor authorises certain kinds of management (St Kilda is still overgrazed today).
There’s Rùm, famously, where clearance, landlordism and depopulation were the backdrop to, yes, the “outdoor laboratory” for the then Nature Conservancy Council’s deer study.
The Scottish Highlands have been framed this way since the 18th c: a kind of testing ground for Improvement – the Enlightenment laboratory. But labs are not models for community!
Poor Bunloit is now the ‘Bunloit Wildland’ project, supported by ReWilding Europe Capital (“leveraging positive change” … “working to build a business case for wild nature in Europe”).
“I will be conferring on the prospects for bison to join the grazing team” … “I think my streams, sorry ‘burns’, are too steep for beavers, but we will be checking with experts.”

My streams! Does he mean Allt na h-Eireige, the chicken burn – maybe the place is not so wild?
Full disclosure: my family – both the Frasers and the MacDonalds – were once tenants on what was the same estate, dutifully coughing up to the same factor on rent day.
Not having enough land is one part of the family story, along with poor harvests and rogue landlords. But what land they did have was intimately known, named, worked, storied and sung. It wasn’t wild.
Being serious about re-wilding and looking for “scalability potential”, sigh, means displacing this image of landlord as the credible agent of natural change in the landscape.
Anyway, enough already, but my absolute favourite line in the article:

“He is yet to come up against opponents to the plan, but said he expects to.”
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