What is rewilding?
Rewilding has become a popular term for restoring the ecological integrity of both land and seascapes. Rewilding isn’t about turning the clock back to recreate the past, it's a bold vision for the future, where natural processes are allowed to flourish across large areas of land and water. A wilder Scotland would see native woodland regenerating at a landscape scale; damaged peatlands restored; rivers lined by alder and willow, running freely and a network of healthy habitats connected by natural corridors, which allow animals to roam freely. Ultimately, rewilding allows nature to do its own thing, to be what it needs to be rather than what we think it needs to be.
A wilder Scotland will sustain a much broader range of wildlife than exists today, whilst a more diverse and resilient natural environment, will ultimately benefit people too, providing new social and economic opportunities to sustain fragle rural communities.
Scotland is undoubtedly a spectacular country but is an ecological shadow of its former self. Its turbulent past has shaped its wild places like few other countries and a legacy of degraded land persists, a land that is devoid of the rich vegetation and wildlife that given the chance, could once again flourish.
Scotland - and wider Britain - has become one of the most ecologically depleted nations on earth. It wasn’t so long ago that vibrant forest stretched its fingers across much of the Highlands. Beavers and cranes found sanctuary in extensive wetlands; salmon and trout filled Scotland's rivers and lynx, wolf and wild boar stalked forest glades. Whilst that ecological jigsaw can never be fully recreated, a wilder, richer and more resilient landscape can return to provide the foundation for intact living systems.
How we work
We’re a small team of media professionals – photographers, filmmakers, writers and designers - producing high-impact visual communications, which fuse ecological science with inspiring storytelling. Working in partnership with a wide range of organisations across many different media platforms, our job is to tell passionate, contagious stories that inform, inspire and influence fresh thinking and ignite new conversations that envision a wilder Scotland full of life.
Most of our work focuses on the following areas:
Much of Scotland was once a rich, vibrant wooded landscape supporting much more wildlife than exists today. Less than 2% of Scotland’s land area is presently under native woodland and these fragments of forest are isolated and in many cases, dying. Trees, shrubs and diverse plant life enrich a landscape. They are a food source for birds and mammals, improve soil quality, absorb water, help regulate our climate and provide ecological niches for a diverse array of species.
The Big Picture vision: The ecological and social benefits of an expanded wild forest network, connected by wildlife corridors, are better understood and many more land managers are active in forest restoration.
Almost all of Scotland’s land and sea is presently controlled by people to support their short-term needs. This incessant exploitation has diminished our natural capital and in doing so, reduced its ability to sustain life in the longer term. When natural processes such as predator-prey interactions, scavenging and the cycling of nutrients are allowed to shape a landscape, that landscape will evolve to support a greater diversity of wildlife as well as broader benefits for local people.
The Big Picture vision: Improved understanding of the role of natural processes and habitat connectivity in functioning living systems, including the beneficial effects of restoring key species such as beavers and apex predators.
Whilst many communities across rural Scotland thrive, others, especially those in remote areas, face an uncertain future. Revitalising local communities in ways that integrate the economic and social needs of people and the long-term restoration of species and habitats is a key component of rewilding.
The Big Picture vision: Vibrant communities thriving on the back of a nature-based economy, which takes account of long-term ecological principles in everyday decision-making.
- BECAUSE right now Nature is losing a war in which short-term economics trumps everything. Our climate is changing, species are being lost, habitats are being increasingly fragmented and basic natural resources such as clean air and water are under threat.
- BECAUSE it’s the right thing to do. We have stripped much of our land of forest, we have drained our wetlands and we have eliminated many species that once lived here. These are all actions that we now condemn in other countries and it’s our moral duty to put things right.
- BECAUSE what is the alternative to rewilding? More dewilding? More species lost? More dismantling of the natural systems that keep us alive? An acceleration in climate change? More rural depopulation through lack of economic opportunity? How long can we carry on that road before we reach a dead end?
Our aim is to inform and inspire fresh thinking that leads to Scotland becoming a world leader in ecosystem repair and restoration.
Who we are
We’re a group of photographers and filmmakers committed to creating media that inspires change. Under the umbrella of The Wild Media Foundation, a Social Enterprise, SCOTLAND: The Big Picture is a major project involving the following: