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Exeter University Newman Lecture Hall - winter lecture - South Western Division

  • Date and time: 7.15pm for 7.25pm start, Thursday13 February 2020
  • Venue: Exeter University Newman Lecture Hall

South Western Divisional AGM and winter lecture.  

Lecture overview:

Sir Charles Burrell, Bt (Charlie) owner of Knepp Estate whose wife Isabella Tree wrote ‘Wilding’, covering the 19 year project story so far, has kindly agreed to talk to RFS members, guests and interested associated groups and individuals.

This will be a fascinating talk giving food for thought, encouraging opportunities for carbon sequestration, improving habitats, biodiversity, water quality and growing native trees at a landscape scale with many ideas transferable to smaller land units.

Knepp is a 3,500 acre estate just south of Horsham, West Sussex. Since 2001, the land – once intensively farmed - has been devoted to a pioneering rewilding project. Using grazing animals as the drivers of habitat creation, and with the restoration of dynamic, natural water courses, the project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. Extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp and populations of more common species are rocketing.

The vision of the Knepp Wildland Project is radically different to conventional nature conservation in that it is not driven by specific goals or target species. Instead, its driving principle is to establish a functioning ecosystem where nature is given as much freedom as possible. The aim is to show how a ‘process-led’ approach can be a highly effective, low-cost method of ecological restoration - suitable for failing or abandoned farmland - that can work to support established nature reserves and wildlife sites, helping to provide the webbing that will one day connect them together on a landscape scale.

As Professor Sir John Lawton, author of the 2010 Making Space for Nature report says:

"Knepp Estate is one of the most exciting wildlife conservation projects in the UK, and indeed in Europe. If we can bring back nature at this scale and pace just 16 miles from Gatwick airport we can do it anywhere. I’ve seen it. It’s truly wonderful, and it fills me with hope."

Tickets to this event were sold on the Eventbrite booking platform.  If you have any queries about the event please contact the local Honorary Secretary, Carolyn Richards, at