Sitting on 3,500 acres of land in West Sussex, England, is a stunning haven of biodiversity.
Welcome to Knepp Castle Estate, a centuries-old property turned “wildland.” Once, it was a failing farm. Now, it’s a beautiful reminder of how ecosystems can be restored by letting Mother Nature take the reins.
In 1985, Charlie Burrell inherited the piece of land, which has been in his family for more than 200 years. He and his wife, Isabella Tree, were all set to run a traditional farm, but soon realized the costs far outweighed the profits. The land wasn’t suitable for growing crops anymore.
So, in 2001, the pair decided to try something else — an experiment in “rewilding,” or restoring environments to their natural state. They reitroduced native species, including Tamworth pigs, Exmoor ponies, longhorn cattle, and deer. Then they took out all the fences and let the animals roam free.
In the following years, the estate went through an incredible transformation. The once neat fields turned into scrubland, creating habitats where new plant and animal species could thrive.
Now it’s home to a multitude of different creatures, including two rare species of bats, nightingales, peregrine falcons, white storks, and even turtle doves, whose numbers have dropped by 98 percent in the U.K. over the last few decades!
“We were living in a biological desert. Now, ecologists are blown away all the time by just the amount of life here,” Isabella told CNN. “It shows the potential that this kind of project has for reversing trends of catastrophic decline.”
What’s more, the estate is now profitable! Charlie and Isabella offer multiple services there, including walking tours, safaris, photography classes, and rewilding workshops. They also sell meat to control their large animal populations, and even allow visitors to spend a night outside in huts or yurts!
What a promising outcome! This is amazing news for conservationists and shows that our planet can be returned to its natural glory, if only we let it.
Learn more about the decades-long project in the video below, and share this beautiful example of biodiversity!
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