European Rewilding Network

Wild Ken Hill

Using a rewilding approach in the English context

Curlew wading at Wild Ken Hill in the UK.
Wet, low-lying woodland, not inhabited by beavers.
Acid heathland at Wild Ken Hill.
Freshwater wetlands at Wild Ken Hill.
Wild Ken Hill: rewilded agricultural fields (left) bleed into freshwater marshes (centre), and then The Wash (right).
Barn Owl at Wild Ken Hill.
Les Bunyan

Wild Ken Hill operates an early-stage lowland rewilding project with huge ecological potential. The 400+ hectare rewilding area includes freshwater marshes, ancient woodland, wood pasture, Fen-like areas, acid heathland, and post-agricultural land that sits across three distinct soil types. The site recorded well over 2,000 species in year zero, and is now seeking to employ rewilding principles to create one of the UK’s top nature reserves.

Separately, on the other 60% of the land holding, Wild Ken Hill actively manages freshwater marshes and other environmental features, and performs pioneering regenerative arable agriculture techniques. This three-prong model has received interest from the UK policymakers as an example of rewilding unproductive land to produce biodiversity, climate and community benefits, while producing food on productive land (Norfolk is among the best farmland in the UK).

 

Project: Wild Ken Hill
Region: West Norfolk, United Kingdown
Type of protection: Privately-owned land containing two County Wildlife Sites
Habitat types: • Woodland pasture
• Acid heath-land
• Deciduous woodland
• Post-agricultural (arable) rewilded grassland and emerging scrub
• Freshwater wetlands
• Reed-bed
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Fostering the development of nature based economies, Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Magnification of rewilding impact and practices
Aim and vision: Wild Ken Hill aims to drastically change the way land is used in the UK by becoming an exemplar in delivering benefits for local communities, wildlife and the climate.
Rather than following the commercial agriculture or forestry techniques that have contributed to record emissions and species loss, the initiative wants to demonstrate the power of a rewilding approach in meeting net zero emissions, restoring biodiversity, and reinvigorating and redefining rural economies and lifestyles.
Uniqueness of the project: Diverse habitat types, species richness, and connectivity to existing areas of conservation interest like The Wash. We operate rewilding in harmony with regenerative farming and traditional conservation, offering a unique, truly scalable land use model for the UK
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, High-impact communications, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: To demonstrate the necessity of rewilding in fighting climate and biodiversity crises; to show that our wider model answers national questions on net zero emissions, biodiversity restoration, and food production; to contribute to redefining rural society and the broader conservation movement.
Results so far: After becoming the first major UK rewilding project to secure government funding through its CSS scheme, our major achievements have included reintroducing our first species (Eurasian Beaver), conducting a broad baseline survey, and significant levels of positive stakeholder engagement and media coverage
Inspirational value: Understanding that our project is much more than the physical habitats on site; it is also a journey to share, and a platform for local communities, government and other landowners to engage with.
Experience you would like to share: We are at the beginning of our journey. Our existing expertise lies in creating sustainable rewilding projects in the current macro environment. In particular, we have a strong understanding of stakeholder engagement and commercial dimensions, as well as how to best position projects as natural capital, ecosystem services and public value frameworks take hold in public policy.
Experience you would like to gain: We are looking to learn more about natural grazing and species reintroductions. We are also seeking help to secure funding for a particular reintroduction opportunity.
Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
2019
End year
N/A
Size (ha)
425
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic, Mixed forests with heath and sandy areas, Wetlands
Natural process
Natural grazing, Wetland dynamics
Flagship species
Beaver, Fallow deer, Feral cattle, Feral horses, Red deer, Roe deer
Wild Ken Hill
Curlew wading at Wild Ken Hill in the UK.
Wet, low-lying woodland, not inhabited by beavers.
Acid heathland at Wild Ken Hill.
Freshwater wetlands at Wild Ken Hill.
Wild Ken Hill: rewilded agricultural fields (left) bleed into freshwater marshes (centre), and then The Wash (right).
Barn Owl at Wild Ken Hill.
Les Bunyan

Wild Ken Hill operates an early-stage lowland rewilding project with huge ecological potential. The 400+ hectare rewilding area includes freshwater marshes, ancient woodland, wood pasture, Fen-like areas, acid heathland, and post-agricultural land that sits across three distinct soil types. The site recorded well over 2,000 species in year zero, and is now seeking to employ rewilding principles to create one of the UK’s top nature reserves.

Separately, on the other 60% of the land holding, Wild Ken Hill actively manages freshwater marshes and other environmental features, and performs pioneering regenerative arable agriculture techniques. This three-prong model has received interest from the UK policymakers as an example of rewilding unproductive land to produce biodiversity, climate and community benefits, while producing food on productive land (Norfolk is among the best farmland in the UK).

 

Map
Country
UK, England
Start year
2019
End year
N/A
Size (ha)
425
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic, Mixed forests with heath and sandy areas, Wetlands
Natural process
Natural grazing, Wetland dynamics
Flagship species
Beaver, Fallow deer, Feral cattle, Feral horses, Red deer, Roe deer
Specification
Project: Wild Ken Hill
Region: West Norfolk, United Kingdown
Type of protection: Privately-owned land containing two County Wildlife Sites
Habitat types: • Woodland pasture
• Acid heath-land
• Deciduous woodland
• Post-agricultural (arable) rewilded grassland and emerging scrub
• Freshwater wetlands
• Reed-bed
Description
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Fostering the development of nature based economies, Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Magnification of rewilding impact and practices
Aim and vision: Wild Ken Hill aims to drastically change the way land is used in the UK by becoming an exemplar in delivering benefits for local communities, wildlife and the climate.
Rather than following the commercial agriculture or forestry techniques that have contributed to record emissions and species loss, the initiative wants to demonstrate the power of a rewilding approach in meeting net zero emissions, restoring biodiversity, and reinvigorating and redefining rural economies and lifestyles.
Uniqueness of the project: Diverse habitat types, species richness, and connectivity to existing areas of conservation interest like The Wash. We operate rewilding in harmony with regenerative farming and traditional conservation, offering a unique, truly scalable land use model for the UK
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, High-impact communications, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: To demonstrate the necessity of rewilding in fighting climate and biodiversity crises; to show that our wider model answers national questions on net zero emissions, biodiversity restoration, and food production; to contribute to redefining rural society and the broader conservation movement.
Results so far: After becoming the first major UK rewilding project to secure government funding through its CSS scheme, our major achievements have included reintroducing our first species (Eurasian Beaver), conducting a broad baseline survey, and significant levels of positive stakeholder engagement and media coverage
Exchange
Inspirational value: Understanding that our project is much more than the physical habitats on site; it is also a journey to share, and a platform for local communities, government and other landowners to engage with.
Experience you would like to share: We are at the beginning of our journey. Our existing expertise lies in creating sustainable rewilding projects in the current macro environment. In particular, we have a strong understanding of stakeholder engagement and commercial dimensions, as well as how to best position projects as natural capital, ecosystem services and public value frameworks take hold in public policy.
Experience you would like to gain: We are looking to learn more about natural grazing and species reintroductions. We are also seeking help to secure funding for a particular reintroduction opportunity.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.