Crown Estate ‘considering’ rewilding land following meeting with Chris Packham and conservation activists

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Crown Estate officials have said they will consider proposals put forward by conservationists to rewild significant proportions of the land under their management.

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, who was among those who met with the estate's representatives, is calling on the Crown Estate to rewild up to 50 per cent of their estates.

The meeting was set up by the campaign group Wild Card, which also suggested setting a specific date for the Crown Estate to work towards.

The group said they were “encouraged” by the response from the Crown Estate, who said they would consider the proposals and offered to meet again in the New Year.

Following the event, Packham said: “I was genuinely encouraged by the openness of the Crown Estates to consider our ambitious and concrete proposals for rewilding up to 50 per cent of their huge estates.

“After the dismal failure of Cop26 we urgently need a big UK landowner to step up and show leadership. After today I’m feeling hopeful that The Crown Estate might be the people to do this.”

The online meeting comes after Packham helped to deliver a petition as part of Wild Card’s ‘Rewild the Royals’ campaign to the gates of Buckingham Palace in October.

The petition, put forward in collaboration with campaign organisation 38 Degrees, accrued more than 100,000 signatures, urging the royals to “lead by example” in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises.

The Royal Family are the UK’s biggest landowner, with over 615,000 acres of land and British foreshore from the Crown Estate alone.

Wild Card said that “while the royals have been vocal advocates against climate change and biodiversity loss, much of the land inherited by today’s royal family is in a poor ecological state”.

The Duchy of Cornwall estate, owned by Prince Charles, has an average tree coverage of just 6 per cent, compared to the EU average of 37 per cent.

“Meanwhile, the vast Balmoral estate in Scotland, owned directly by the Queen, is managed as a sporting estate, suppressing the rare temperate rainforest that would naturally grow there,” the organisation said.

The meeting with the Crown Estate comes just weeks after a swathe of England’s biggest landowners and managers, including the National Trust and RSPB signed a joint pact committing them to large-scale habitat restorations and a major tree-planting programme across a portfolio of 10.5 million acres.

An analysis by scientists at the Wildland Research Institute suggests that some of the Crown Estate lands have high potential for rewilding and could therefore be of high value to multiple species, as well as being structurally important for landscape connectivity at the local and national level.

Annie Randall, a spokesperson for Wild Card, said: “We’re thrilled to be discussing this with the Crown Estate, and would love to have them at our rewilding round table. Wednesday’s meeting is a sign that democratic pressure really does work.”

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