Representatives of the rewilding happening on the Sharpham Estate are taking part in a virtual Eden Project event alongside Sir David Attenborough, designer Wayne Hemingway and Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit.
Julian Carnell, director of The Sharpham Trust, and Simon Roper, director of Sharpham-based nature conservation organisation Ambios are participating in the 2021 Festival of Discovery – a free, online event for everyone running from November 11-13.
This year’s event coincides with the end of the COP26 climate conference and the focus of this year’s Festival of Discovery is on climate change and the environment.
The festival includes talks and inspirational speakers, ideas on actions, case studies and success stories, creativity and children’s activities.
Simon and Julian are on the discussion panel Rewilding: Letting Nature Lead The Way, taking place on Friday 12 November at 11.30am as part of the Hot Topics in the Tropics talk sessions.
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Said Julian: “Quite rightly the airwaves are full of the hopes and fears associated with the climate crisis and the meeting of world leaders in Glasgow at COP26.”
“At Sharpham we believe that climate change cannot be separated from the myriad threats affecting biodiversity around the world or from the mental health crisis that has intensified during the pandemic,” said Julian. “These emergencies are in fact interrelated and we need to address them together if we are to affect real positive change.
“The heart of our work is trying to connect people to the natural world. It is only by accepting that we are all part of nature rather than separate to it that we will begin to tackle the crisis facing us.”
Affecting positive change at Sharpham
Both The Sharpham Trust and Ambios Ltd are partners in rewilding 50 acres of The Sharpham Estate, in a project named Wild for People that has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The project is in its second year and already increases in insects, birds, wildflowers and grasses have been monitored on the land, which runs alongside the River Dart 3 miles from Totnes, South Devon.
Said Simon, whose organisation trains people in nature conservation: “Rewilding is about all of us finding ways to create, live and work within healthy, flourishing ecosystems. The word ‘within’ is really important; we see ourselves as separate from nature at our peril. That’s the clear message from COP26.”
“At Sharpham we are actively making space for nature while also training the next generation of wildlife professionals. Part of our task is to allow our trainees to explore the knowledge and skills they need to make the most of rewilding in whatever form that takes and it will be different in different places.
“There is a much-needed message of hope within the rewilding concept; an achievable vision of the future where people see themselves as part of a rich and diverse natural world which is our life support system. Rewilding will bring forward much needed positive actions to address the ecological emergency and climate crisis. We are a small part of that, and from each small acorn, great trees grow!”
More about the Festival of Discovery
The event is a free, three-day online festival where participants will “discuss COP26, debate ideas for a more sustainable future, share top tips and eco-activities you can do at home, and celebrate what’s great about life and this planet”.
Eden Communities, which is running the event, say: “From community projects making a difference to live music, from panel sessions and workshops to yoga and meditation sessions, there’s something for everyone as we explore what we can do together for the planet”.
Special guest speakers in the Hot Topics in the Tropics talk sessions include
• Esteemed TV ecologist Sir David Attenborough, influential biologist E. O. Wilson and Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit, who will be in a session called How to Save The Natural World
• Designer Wayne Hemingway, in a panel called Slow Fashion: Quality over Quantity
• Actor Rosie Day, in a discussion called How Women Can Change The World
The panel Rewilding: Letting Nature Lead The Way also includes
• Derek Gow, farmer, nature conservationist, and author of Bringing Back the Beaver
• Helen Meech, Head of Movement Building at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
• Ivan de Klee, Rewilding Consultant at Knepp Wildland, a high-profile rewilding success story
• Peter Cairns, from SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a charity that works to drive the recovery of nature across Scotland through rewilding
Last year the Festival of Discovery welcomed around 25,000 visitors and its content notched up more than 400,000 YouTube views.