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'It'll take away our livelihoods': Welsh farmers on rewilding and carbon markets

Despite attempts to integrate them into moves to tackle the biodiversity crisis, some farmers still feel sidelined and criticisedTeleri Fielden is suddenly very despairing. After skirting around the topic for the best part of an hour at her farm in Snowdonia, we're discussing rewilding and the idea of restoring land to a more natural state and creating more nature-friendly farming practices.Wales has become one of the focal points of the debate playing out all over the world about how farms and rewilding can work together. Supporters of rewilding say the two can co-exist, but that farming has to change given it is the biggest contributor to nature loss in the country. Around 1 in 6 species in the country are currently at risk of extinction and birds like turtle doves and corn buntings have already gone from Wales' skies.With close to 90% of land in Wales used for agriculture, there is currently little space for wildlife to exist free from the influence of farming. Rewilding, which can involve encouraging and supporting wildlife on-farm through replanting hedgerows as well as giving over unproductive land to nature, could help reverse the biodiversity decline.A recent report from the Rewilding Britain charity found rewilding at 22 sites in England had led to an increase in jobs from a total of 151 to 222, in roles including animal husbandry, ecology and nature tourism. But two years ago plans to rewild a large area of mid-Wales sparked a backlash from farmers, who felt sidelined. Rewilding Britain was forced to step down from the project. Adding to the disquiet are reports of Welsh farmland being bought for carbon-offset projects. Fielden, 31, who has just taken over the tenancy of Hafod y Llyn Isaf, a farm a few miles from Wales' highest mountain, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), is involved in the nature friendly farming network, but nonetheless remains sceptical of rewilding."I just find it bizarre. It is as if they just go, 'we'll pluck all you people out of there, we don't want you, your livelihoods, your traditions or your land management skills'," she says."We'll just remove you and to hell with the rural economy, people and food. It's a weird kind of Highland clearance," adds Fielden, referring to the forced removal of people from farms in the Scottish Highlands by landlords from the mid-18th century. Continue reading...
Zdroj: The Guardian

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