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.

 

 

 

Why Scotland?

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.

Read more about rewilding in Scotland here › 

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. 

 

 

Focus

Most of our work focuses on the following areas:

Native woodland

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.

 

Natural processes

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.

 

Nature-based enterprise

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.

Why bother?

  • 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

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:

 

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Peter Cairns: Project Founder and Photographer

For 15 years Peter has been using his images to inspire and inform a wide audience. The author of six books to date, Peter was co-founder of projects such as Tooth & Claw, Highland Tiger, Wild Wonders of Europe and more recently, 2020VISION. Peter is a director of The Wild Media Foundation, the Social Enterprise behind SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. An advocate for rewilding, Peter is a serving Board Member of Trees for Life and is a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

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James Shooter: Cameraman and Aerial Photographer

James has a strong interest in conservation science and a passion for exploring ways of communicating ideas, stories and opinions. James recently became a director of The Wild Media Foundation where he helps develop multimedia narratives for a range of conservation bodies.

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Mark Hamblin: Cameraman and Photographer

Mark Hamblin is a founding Director of The Wild Media Foundation and has worked as a professional nature photographer for the past 20 years. He has contributed to, and co-managed, numerous conservation projects including Wild Wonders of Europe, Tooth and Claw, Highland Tiger and most recently 2020VISION. Previously widely travelled, Mark is now focused on documenting the stories of a wilder Scotland and its wildlife from his base in the Cairngorms National Park.

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Philip Price: Contributing Photographer

Philip Price is a professional wildlife photographer and film maker who has focused his whole career on the rich array of wildlife in Scotland. He has worked for the BBC, BBC Scotland, National Geographic and numerous production companies as guide, film maker and presenter. 10 years ago he started Loch Visions, a multi award-winning business running wildlife photography workshops in Argyll. His photography has won numerous national awards and has been widely published. For the last 5 years Philip has been documenting the Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale, with many of his images used to promote this ground-breaking reintroduction.

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Richard Shucksmith: Contributing Photographer

Richard's favourite place is Scotland's dramatic coastline. He studied marine biology and marine ecology, which has allowed him to develop a deep understanding of this dynamic environment. His underwater photography enables him to visually communicate the importance of Scotland's wonderful marine life. Richard’s work has been widely published and he has won many awards including the overall winner in the British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA) in 2011. Richard lives in the Shetland Islands where he spends his time exploring its 1600 miles of coastline and running Shetland Photo Tours.

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Guy Richardson: Contributing Photographer

Guy Richardson is a professional landscape photographer and time-lapse filmmaker. His images are used by some of the UK's largest tourism and conservation organisations, including Visit Britain and The Woodland Trust. Now based in Durham, he has a growing passion for the mountains of Scotland and spends much of his time in the wildest places finding unique and powerful images that capture their spirit.

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Neil McIntyre: Contributing Photographer

Neil is a professional nature photographer based in the Cairngorms National Park, where he has lived for over 30 years. His main photographic focus is on species close to home such as red squirrels, crested tits and red deer. Neil has been an award winner in competitions such as Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the British Wildlife Photography awards. He recently worked as a Field Assistant and appeared in, the hugely successful Highlands: Scotland’s Wild Heart series produced by Mara Media for BBC Scotland.

Neil has recently completed a life-long project on Red Squirrels and the resulting book will be published in April in partnership with SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

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Pete Smith: Sound designer and recordist

Pete is a professional field recordist and sound designer with a passion for wildlife and conservation. His background is in music and electroacoustic composition and he first started recording the sounds of the natural world to use as material is his compositions. This gave him a greater appreciation of the musicality and richness of the natural landscape and he now can be found in some of Scotland's most remote places capturing the sounds he finds there. He has worked for Channel 4, BBC Alba,  Hopscotch Films and STV as a field recordist and sound designer on projects ranging from award winning feature length documentaries to animations and short films.

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Emma Blyth: Project Marketing

Based in the Scottish Highlands, Emma is a freelance marketing professional with a background in the nature and conversation photography industries. She recently became a director of The Wild Media Foundation has worked on various visual media projects including 2020VISION, Tooth & Claw and Wild Wonders of Europe.

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Gordon Eaglesham: Contributing writer

Gordon Eaglesham is a published writer, lifelong wildlife enthusiast and rewilding supporter based in the Scottish Borders. He has written for publications such as BBC Wildlife magazine, Scottish Islands Explorer and Bird Watching magazine. In 2014 he launched his own blog to promote local, national and international wildlife news and comment.

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Amber King: Graphic Designer

Based in the Scottish Highlands, Amber is a graphic designer and is currently studying a degree in Visual Communication. She has a passion for photography and the outdoors. Hailing from the Outer Hebrides, Amber has taken her love for the islands into her work and has developed a very earthy, natural style. She is currently working on a visual communication and design project to raise awareness for Scottish wildcats in the Central Highlands, in association with Scottish Wildcat Action.

 

 

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Matthew Lissimore: Wildlife Artist

Matt is an artist, designer and photographer. His explorations and observations of the natural world inspire and inform his creative work. He is one of the founding directors of Firecrest Studio where he uses his visual communication skills to help raise awareness for British wildlife and conservation.

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Phil Mumby: Wildlife Artist

Obsessed with wildlife since an early age, Phil is an award-winning artist and photographer. His passion for British nature, and the desire to use art and design to benefit the animals and landscapes he loves, led to him forming Firecrest Studio in 2016 – a design company based exclusively around the natural world.

 

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Richard Bunting: Communications/press advisor

Richard runs Communications & Campaigns International – a consultancy on social and environmental issues working with NGOs, charities and the UN. He has worked with UNICEF, World Health Organization, and managed media relations on the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Indian Ocean Tsunami Appeal that raised £392m. He has written for New York Times, The Guardian and El Pais, and is editor of Green Adventures and Little Green Space magazines. Scotland is one of his favourite places, where he works with Trees for Life and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.