Rupert King: Towards Re-Wilding

QUESTION 1: How and why did you become involved with the protection, conservation & promotion of the environment?

As a young boy I was brought up in the countryside of North Wales. Under the huge influence of my father, an amateur naturalist, I developed a growing love and knowledge of the wildlife around us. My connection to nature continued at School among the wild fells of West Yorkshire.

It wasn’t until I went to Sheffield University to study environmental science that I learned the importance of environmental protection and nature conservation. These were key elements of the course studies.

At the same time I started to join environmental organisations such as the RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, all of whom are heavily involved in the promotion of environmental issues. Through my memberships I then became involved in voluntary conservation action such as work on RSPB nature reserves.

QUESTION 2: What are the main activities that you are involved in?

I am in a period of significant change. This year I moved from London to Wales to start a new chapter in my life. In London I worked as a landscape architect, which gave me numerous design opportunities to introduce nature and improve biodiversity in urban environments. I also helped to manage a local community garden in which attracting wildlife formed a key part of our aims.

I have now retired. In Wales I own 4 acres of land comprising woodland, meadows & streams. I am busy rewilding and managing the land for wildlife.

I remain a committed & active supporter of several environmental organisations.

QUESTION 3: What successes and disappointments have you had?

It is not easy to talk in terms of clear cut successes and disappointments!

I am proud of my achievements working as a landscape architect in London and the South East. My commissions enabled me to design & create urban green spaces where nature could thrive. I worked on the greening of several housing estates and schools that included new wildflower meadows, hedges and other habitats that brought nature closer to city residents.

Through my local community action I played a leading role in the conversion of derelict railway land into a stunning community garden that attracts both people & wildlife and continues to be cared for by local community gardeners.

My disappointments relate more to wider national issues. Despite living in a nation of animal lovers where people spend millions on feeding birds my generation has witnessed the catastrophic collapse of biodiversity and the loss of wildlife habitats in the endless pursuit of “progress”. Government funding at all levels for the environment continues to be cut and environmental legislation & protection is either watered down or else not properly implemented. Now we find ourselves in a climate and nature emergency entirely of our own making. But hope springs eternal through ongoing action!

QUESTION 4: With which environmental organisations are you most closely linked?

I am an active member and supporter of:

  • RSPB
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Greenpeace
  • British Trust for Ornithology
  • Butterfly Conservation Society
  • Woodland Trust
  • London Wildlife Trust
  • Rewilding Britain UK

QUESTION 5: Which events characterise your environmental work?

Predictably I try to “think global and act local” at all times!

I continue to support nature conservation organisations, make donations and get involved in national and international environmental campaigns.

But recently, inspired by books such as Feral (George Monbiot) and Wilding (Isabella Tree) I am increasingly committed to the rewilding movement, which I believe must play a major part in tackling the environmental crisis we now face.

The successful rewilding of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex – which I have visited twice – has been a source of profound inspiration to me and I plan to visit other rewilding projects in Holland and Scotland to find out more.

At a local level I am busy with my own modest rewilding project but I plan to get involved in my local community in Wales to look at ways in which wildlife corridors can be created to enhance local habitats and to help purchase of marginal agricultural land for future rewilding projects. To this end I intend to become more involved in the work of Rewilding Britain UK.

Finally I am looking at ways to get involved in the preservation, registration and maintenance of public footpaths & bridleways in the countryside. I believe passionately that if people are being asked to care for nature it is vital they have good access to the countryside wherever they live, so they can appreciate the beauty of the wildlife around them and the benefits of nature in our lives.

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