Magazine article The Spectator

Call of the Wild

Magazine article The Spectator

Call of the Wild

Article excerpt

I've recently found myself musing on why, in this age of luxury linens and 24-hour room service, an increasing number of lifestyle initiatives are so keen to reacquaint us with our wild side. There was Channel 4's The Wild Gourmets, which saw Guy Grieve and Thomasina Miers roasting venison in a force 12 gale; and Punk Publishing's Wild Swimming, for which photographer Daniel Start went skinny-dipping in icy lakes. And now Wildfitness is exhorting us to rediscover the beast within by running barefoot through the 'urban jungle' of Regent's Park. So I was intrigued to be invited to Alladale, where MFI heir Paul Lister wants to reintroduce wolves to Scotland.

Actually, what Lister wants to do is 'rewild' his 23,000 acres of the Highlands, regenerating the wilderness that was there before the trees were cut down to make way for sheep and the sheep were shooed out to create the hunting, shooting and fishing estates of today.

In Lister's vision, a denuded landscape overpopulated by deer will be replaced by forests of Caledonian pine, birch, rowan, aspen, alder and holly, supporting a similarly diverse range of fauna from lynx, bears and wolves to moose, wild boar and red squirrels. A 'controlled release of wolves' is part of this vision.

Why Lister should want to rewild Alladale is easily explained. 'Stalking has turned deer into a dominant species that is detrimental to the landscape, ' he says. 'And to cover your costs you have to diversify your activities. A wilderness reserve would be both sustainable and a huge attraction -- there haven't been wolves in Scotland for 300 years. It would also get people to think about other species.

It ticks all the boxes: economics, ecology, the environment, education and employment.' The actual process of rewilding is more complicated. Lister's inspirations are the Carpathian mountains in Eastern Europe, which still have lynx, bears and wolves, and the Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa, which sits on reclaimed farmland. He and his team have started by replanting trees (more than 100,000), culling a controversial number of deer (almost 500 last season), and reintroducing a handful of wild boar and a pair of rather sensitive European elk, which they are hoping will breed in the spring. The idea is that the wild boar will rootle around in the bracken, turning over the ground and helping the trees to self-seed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.