The rewilding of land, even on a relatively small scale, can enrich wild nature and the lives of people connected to it. Joining the European Rewilding Network will help Green Sod Ireland deliver its community-focused rewilding vision.
A love of the land
Rewilding is not just about landscapes and wildlife, but people too. We rely on the natural world for water, food and air, while a strong connection with nature keeps us mentally and physically healthy.
Founded in 2007, Green Sod Ireland (GSI) is an Irish land trust with charitable status. It works to protect land and its biodiversity for the sake of nature and people, in recognition that all life is interconnected and interdependent. Land gifted to GSI is managed with steadily decreasing intervention and thereby allowed to rewild naturally.
Enhancing rewilding outcomes
Green Sod Ireland has just become the European Rewilding Network’s (ERN) latest addition (and the second Irish member following the Dunsany Reserve), with membership now totaling 65 members across 27 countries. With many other members involved in rewilding efforts linked to community outreach, the initiative’s inclusion will strengthen the network’s collective expertise and assist GSI with its rewilding efforts and realising its overall vision.
“Green Sod Ireland is an organisation of people with great passion for the Earth and its myriad life forms,” says co-founder Melissa Griffith. “We are delighted to be joining the European Rewilding Network and look forward to the support of other members with our rewilding efforts. The microcosm – the world of soil, earthworms and other small, invisible life – isn’t high on many people’s priority lists for care and attention. We want to inspire people to see the wonder and intrinsic value in this world and to feel a connection with it.”
Giving back to nature
GSI has been gifted more than 100 acres of land across Ireland by visionary individuals and communities since foundation. This land comes under the care of GSI and is known as “Wild Acres”. An initial evaluation by ecologists helps to create a baseline on which to build the knowledge of each site. The local community participates in the protection of the land, and is invited to engage in GSI’s education initiatives on rewilding, landscape restoration and nature protection.
While Wild Acres are set aside for the sake of the wildlife they support, this process benefits local people hugely too. Rewilding sites provide valuable data on recolonisation, on how habitats respond to climate change, and habitat connectivity. In more practical terms, they act as a source of oxygenating land plants, pollinating insects and pest-controlling bats and birds, and also serve as habitat restoration and rewilding showcases.
GSI is now fully certified for carbon offsetting, having spent the last year (2020/2021) working with Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency and EcoMerit (a carbon certification company) to achieve certification. This will enhance the carbon sequestration value of Wild Acres land.
GSI oversees ecological education programmes in a number of counties across Ireland, promoting rewilding, biodiversity enhancement and a stronger connection with nature to both children and adults. It is also cooperating with various stakeholders in Ireland with the aim of significantly expanding and promoting rewilding in the country.
“The land of Ireland is a green gift to all of us,” says Melissa Griffith. “Through our work with local communities, we are raising awareness of the health, educational, social, economic and environmental benefits of caring for the land and its biodiversity. Together we hold this land in trust.”
A platform for exchange
Today rewilding is gaining momentum as a progressive and effective approach to conservation in Europe. Underpinning this trend, the burgeoning ERN continues to foster collaboration and amplify results.
Founded by Rewilding Europe in 2013, the aim of the ERN is to enhance the efforts of each member by facilitating the exchange of skills, insight and experience. Members meet regularly, usually via webinar, while nature-based businesses can also apply to Rewilding Europe Capital, Rewilding Europe’s enterprise loan facility.
Rewilding Europe extends a warm welcome to all European rewilding initiatives that focus on practical, result-oriented rewilding and encourages them to apply for ERN membership.