What is ‘wilderculture?’
It’s a term we have coined to quickly explain a new land management principle we are developing.
Wilderculture uses holistic management to fully integrate habitat restoration and farming or game management.
Wilderculture differs from other similar terms like ‘agri-wilding’ and ‘agroecology’ which describe ecological processes applied to agricultural land.
Wilderculture is the process of allowing land (under any management regime) to ecologically rewild and uses managed domestic livestock or managed wild animals to fill the ‘gaps’ in the food web. Managing the ‘gaps’ – such as those created by the lack of top predators – can help maximise diversity and offer an additional economic opportunity to landowners other than tourism.
In Wilderculture, in the absence of predators, the ruminant tier is managed through planned grazing. Planned grazing mimics the more natural grazing patterns of wild ruminants by bunching and moving grazers to minimise overgrazing, maximise rest and allow regenerative animal impact to occur. There are many ways in which holistic planned grazing can be implemented in more wild environments including; temporary fencing to exclude or enclose grazers, traditional herding/droving or incentive feeding of feed blocks/molasses etc. Techniques such as GPS trackers and passive monitoring can be used to monitor the natural behaviours of the livestock or managed wild herds and then the most appropriate form of adaptive management is applied depending on the context of the landowner to make effective use of existing resources.
Food produced from this system must be considered ‘interest’ from a functional and dynamic ecosystem – it could be wild game, wild edible plants, spring water, and any livestock used in the management.
Wilderculture also tries to address the often overlooked social and cultural element of land management by considering the needs and desires of the people involved and the cultural history of a place and weaving these ideas into a holistic management plan. Examples of this could be using lost skills such as the droving of cattle, managing work horses or the restoration and use of traditional buildings instead of new infrastructure or mechanical alternatives.
A holistic management framework is used to plan and manage the landholding at landscape level, using holistic financial planning, holistic planned grazing, holistic land planning, traditional skills and ecological monitoring to influence the process.
Benefits of Wilderculture:
- Allows for successful rewilding without the controversial introduction of top predators.
- Addresses the issue that land set aside for rewilding takes it away from the provision of human food for a burgeoning population.
- Offers an opportunity to make land holdings economically viable without having to rely on tourism.
- Prevents the overstocking of lower land as a result or rewilding the uplands.
- Maximises diversity beyond what can be achieved with predator-less rewilding.
- Can be used to create a mosaic of habitats offering increased diversity and a more ‘attractive’ landscape.
- Is perfect for Sporting Estates, Conservation land and Farm Land and can bridge the gaps between.
- Creates an opportunity to reskill existing staff.
- Can revitalise lost traditions, infrastructure and skills.
- Can bring communities together and attract funding.
- Can be integrated with existing subsidy systems and management objectives.
Please get in touch to discuss your ideas if you think a Wilderculture approach would benefit and suit your land holding.