A new and interactive 'Map of Dreams' has been launched to create a network of rewilding spaces across the East of England
Oak forests teaming with red squirrels, beavers and pine martens. Seas awash with blue, humpback, sperm and bottlenose whales. Skies full of colourful birds and bumblebees. This is an increasingly nostalgic vision of Britain, now one of the world's most nature-depleted nations.
In September 2020, the United Nations revealed that no global biodiversity targets set in 2010 had been met – which means the pressure is on.
In Britain, there is growing agreement that a mindset shift and behaviour change are needed to reverse the pattern, and recreate a more natural, biodiverse and ecologically-rich nation.
In the East of England, plans are already well underway.
A new and interactive '' has been launched by the people-led movement – to inspire and track projects around the region that encourage nature regeneration.
The ultimate aim is to transform the region into one of the UK's biggest and best nature reserves. The new map enlists the energy, passion and motivation of residents to take positive action, slow the pace of destruction and create change.
WildEast is an ambitious project, aiming to return 20% of East Anglia – 250,000 hectares – back to nature.
By creating a suitable habitat, the hope is to return abundance – and pave the way for the reintroduction of key species such as the beaver, pelican, bison and lynx.
The new Map of Dreams is a live, visual representation of the pledges made by individuals and businesses in East Anglia to benefit nature.
Fully inclusive, WildEast invites everyone to get involved – from farmers and landowners to ecologists and smallholders. A vicar, a special needs school, and a village community are among those who've already pledged land to the big scale project.
Those without land to pledge can still support the initiative with a financial contribution or through volunteering time and expertise. WildEast welcomes more people in the region to come and pledge to make a difference.
WildEast is also proud to work with and is grateful for the charity's support. The ambitious East Anglian project forms part of Rewilding Britain's rapidly growing , which is bringing together major initiatives from across Britain.
Professor Alastair Driver, Rewilding Britain's Director, said: "This fantastic landowner-led initiative from our friends at WildEast can play a major role in achieving large-scale nature restoration in East Anglia, with larger landowners and landowner clusters creating core rewilding areas and other smaller farms, parks and gardens providing the nature-rich glue that connects it all up. Brilliant!"
WildEast was launched as a charitable foundation in July 2020, led by three founding trustees – Hugh Somerleyton, Oliver Birkbeck and Argus Hardy – all East Anglians and committed conservationists.
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It's hoped the Map of Dreams will inspire others in the region to contribute 20% of their land to nature – bringing WildEast closer to their target of 1,000 pledges by the end of 2021.
Every pledge is featured on the Map of Dreams, along with snapshot information about the project.
Somerleyton Hall. The Somerleyton Estate has pledged more than 1,000 acres
WildEast founders Hugh Somerleyton, Oliver Birkbeck and Argus Hardy
Green Adventures April 2021
Pledges so far include:
A nature recovery expert who has returned 80% of his garden back to nature
A lady who unexpectedly inherited 100 acres of the family farm and is selling the farmhouse to pay for the land to be returned to wild land
A Suffolk vicar who has returned her churchyard to nature, and recorded it on YouTube
A special needs school in Lowestoft that has created a wild nature garden and orchard for children and staff
A small community comprising their gardens and village
An industrial estate
A 24-acre farm where 1,500 indigenous trees were planted and a wildlife pond created
A mother of three who owns 45 acres of very wild land and is just starting on her journey