Rewilding fights climate change
Climate and biodiversity are inextricably linked
Rewilding restores natural processes to make the land more climate-resilient.
Healthy ecosystems are better able to adapt to the extreme weather events and unpredictable, fluctuating conditions that climate change brings.
How does rewilding fight climate change?
The land heals and becomes better able to adapt to challenging conditions
Trees and plants capture carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis
Rewilding protects underground stores of soil carbon from being released into the air
Rewilding prevents the emission of greenhouse gases from substances such as fertilisers
Woodland plantations have gained popularity recently as a means to tackle the climate crisis, however they offer little help to our biodiversity crisis. The process of tree planting emits carbon, produces plastic waste and, in some circumstances, involves the use of herbicides.
At Heal, we'll let nature plant trees for us. We'll capture carbon through the natural regeneration of trees and the restoration of soil. The habitats we create will help heal our climate whilst also supporting a diverse range of habitats and species.
In its report on rewilding and climate breakdown, Rewilding Britain sets out a powerful and authoritative case for the restoration of natural processes to sequester carbon.
It isn't enough to just reduce emissions - we also have to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere. Rewilding is a natural, low-cost way to fight climate change and the climate emergency is one of the reasons we set up Heal.
Vegetation captures carbon using the most powerful existing carbon capture technology there is on earth - photosynthesis. Plants grow using food they make from sunlight and CO2. That process, photosynthesis, produces sugars and the best waste product imaginable: oxygen.
The 2018 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is unequivocal: we have to cut the emissions caused by human activity. There must be a net reduction of 45% by 2030 if we are to stop the planet warming by more than 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels.
To put this in terms of our plans for a single site, where former grazing land is going through succession to becoming forest, 0.37 tonnes of carbon is absorbed per hectare per year.* On a 200ha site, that would be approximately 74 tonnes of carbon sequestered annually. An average car on the road in the UK emits 3.62 tonnes of CO2 a year.**
Healthy, biodiverse soils also capture and store increasing amounts of carbon.
The good news is that the Government agrees with the value of natural habitat restoration as a contributor: in a 2018, the UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) issued a report on land use and climate change, which noted (p 22) that 'using land released from agriculture for carbon sequestration and restoring natural habitats can deliver deep emissions reduction by 2050'.
People are naturally concerned about food security. The CCC report addresses this as a key issue. We support Rewilding Britain's summary of the CCC report position, which is that releasing land for natural habitats could be done without compromising overall food production, if combined with measures to improve farm productivity and encourage healthy eating. Reducing the food waste figure of 30% during production and consumption also needs to be tackled.
* Dawson and Smith, 2007