Chris Packham meets crown estate to promote rewilding royal land

Chris Packham and a campaign to “rewild the royals” have had a “really good” meeting with the crown estate to ask it to consider pledging a slice of its 615,000 acres to wild nature.

Packham said the crown estate was “quite clearly aligned” with the rewilding campaign group Wild Card in its determination to act to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises by changing the way land is managed.

The crown estate is the royal family’s £14.1bn real estate portfolio, which includes urban areas such as Regent Street in central London as well as 264,000 acres of farmland, woods and uplands.

“It has enormous potential for rewilding and they recognise that,” said Packham. “We weren’t talking about bears and wolves and lynx, and they were extremely receptive.”

In the meeting, Wild Card proposed that the crown estate make a pledge to make space for nature on a percentage of its land. The group also suggested a panel of expert scientists to advise it on rewilding, and asked if the crown estate would convene a discussion with other major landowners such as the Church Commissioners, the National Trust and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge to discuss rewilding and nature recovery on their land.

Wild Card also asked the crown estate to consider undertaking “opportunity mapping” to calculate the optimum areas of its landholdings to return to nature – areas between two nature reserves, 例えば, that could join up natural landscapes.

The crown estate has told Wild Card it will respond to the proposals in the new year, when it will meet the campaign group again.

The Wild Card campaign has not yet managed to secure a meeting to discuss rewilding with the royal family and the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster.

The royal family including the duchies also directly own an estimated 867,500 acres of land, an area twice the size of Greater London, including most of Dartmoor, swaths of upland Wales, the Isles of Scilly and estates at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire and Sandringham in Norfolk.

Packham said he hoped the positive response from the crown estate would encourage the royal family to engage with their proposals.

彼は言った: “It would be great to see the crown estate taking a lead on rewilding in a practical way in a working landscape, and it would give confidence to others to do the same.”

Early analyses by Dr Steve Carver and Dr Jonathan Carruthers-Jones at the Wildland Research Institute suggest that some of the crown estate lands “have high potential for rewilding and could be of value to multiple species as well as being structurally important for landscape connectivity at the local and national level”.

A spokesperson for the crown estate said: “The crown estate recognises the urgent need to tackle the climate and environmental emergency. Alongside our commitment to being a net zero business by 2030, we are actively seeking solutions to restore biodiversity and the natural world, including by providing and protecting habitats and removing carbon from the atmosphere across our portfolio. We continue to review the role that our landholdings can play in addressing these important challenges, and are working closely with many partners and stakeholders to help make a difference.”