A YORKSHIRE nature charity is celebrating after being granted funding to explore innovative ways to encourage rewilding across the region.

The Yorkshire Rewilding Network (YRN), which is run by a team of volunteers who connect, inspire and enable rewilding, has received £12,000 from Rewilding Britain’s Rewilding Innovation Fund.

Announcing the funding on World Environment Day, YRN committee member Sarah Mason said it will allow the charity to open up rewilding to a wider range of communities who are not large land owners.

“Thanks to Rewilding Britain’s funding we will now be able to go into areas and kickstart rewilding conversations among people for whom it’s not currently on their radar,” Sarah said.

“There’s often a feeling that rewilding is only for people who own lots of land but that isn’t true – no one on the YRN committee is a large land owner, for example. Rewilding is all about letting nature take the lead to restore natural processes and this can happen in urban settings, in schools, or anywhere there is a patch of land.

“This project is all about bespoke engagement - finding locations that don't have a lot of rewilding at the minute, gathering the insight into what other activities are already happening there and looking at how we can encourage and support more rewilding.

“We want to get more people talking about rewilding, sharing ideas and philosophies, and see where communities can then take it.”

YRN aims for its rewilding hubs to provide a blueprint for other networks around the country, showcasing how more people can get involved in rewilding even when they don’t own or manage land.

“Nature is really good for everyone, in many different ways,” Sarah says. “Strong ecosystems provide us with food security, help us to reduce flood risk and be more resilient to drought and wildfires.

“But being out in nature is also beneficial for people both physically and mentally, and nature-rich spaces can bring communities together. We want to make sure all those benefits are accessible to everyone.

“Rewilding encourages a balance between people and the rest of nature so that we thrive together. It has a huge, joyful message; it brings hope, happiness and shows how quickly life can flourish if we give it space and time.”

Since 2021 Rewilding Britain’s Rewilding Innovation Fund has helped fund 44 rewilding initiatives across Britain’s land and sea, from community-driven to technology-focused projects.

Sara King, Rewilding Manager at Rewilding Britain, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support this brilliant rewilding project from Yorkshire Rewilding Network. Connecting local rewilding projects, as well as the rewilders themselves, is a vital step in supporting large scale nature restoration.

“This inspiring, innovative rewilding project will provide a blueprint for other county networks, showcasing how more people can get involved in rewilding even if they don’t own or manage land.”

Rewilding Britain’s Rewilding Innovation Fund aims to remove barriers to rewilding across Britain by awarding up to £15,000 to multiple rewilding projects twice a year. From business plans to feasibility studies, community engagement to trialling the latest technology, it chooses projects it considers will have the highest impact on people and nature, on land and sea, with opportunities for shared learning with their Rewilding Network.

The Yorkshire Rewilding Network is a small but fast-growing charity, established in August 2020. One project its members have been involved in is Broughton Sanctuary, near Skipton, where thousands of new trees have been planted and previously farmed areas given over to re-wilding. The network's aim is to connect, inspire and enable rewilding throughout Yorkshire and work towards a brighter, more sustainable future for all inhabitants be they creatures great or small.

It believes in a nature-first approach to land care and management — from urban gardens to 1,000-acre farms, coastal waters to upland dales — one that allows Yorkshire’s diverse mosaic of habitats to thrive, and all communities living within them to flourish.

A spokesperson said: "Whether you have a patio, an allotment, a grand estate or oodles of passion, you can make a difference. Rewilding works at every scale. The real power lies in joining the dots — connecting the places and people working towards a common goal: a Yorkshire teeming with life at every level.

"We want to bring rewilding to the forefront in Yorkshire by connecting like-minded people across the region. Whether you’re actively rewilding or learning about it for the first time, our network is a place to share ideas and experiences, find out about projects near you, learn more about ways that you can get involved and be inspired to take action."

It also organises visits throughout the summer to rewilding sites from wetlands to wildflower meadows, beaver ponds and country estates to community projects and urban gardens. It includes a visit to a wild garden in Ilkley, a suburban garden of just under half an acre which has been developed over the last 15 years to be shared with wildlife and is now being increasingly rewilded.

Rewilding is a growing movement which aims to let nature take the lead to restore natural processes. It can help to create a range of different habitats, tackle climate change, reduce flooding, increase biodiversity and allow wildlife to thrive. It can also create new opportunities for employment and improve health and wellbeing.

Find out more about Yorkshire Rewilding Network and how you can get involved at https://www.yorkshirerewildingnetwork.org.uk/