Visionaries: Derek Gow
1st April 2009
‘Small-scale, incredibly cautious and very slow’ is how Derek Gow sums up the Government’s approach to nature conservation.
It's not about how far we can push [the reintroduction of species]. It's what degree of tolerance we can have.
‘Small-scale, incredibly cautious and very slow’ is how Derek Gow sums up the Government’s approach to nature conservation. ‘The future of nature conservation is not fiddling round with tiny patches. We need to have much more imagination and we should be much more dynamic, imaginative and aggressive carrying it forward,’ he says.
Gow is inspired by large-scale rewilding projects such as the Oostvaardersplassen, a 6,000-acre wilderness in the Netherlands where nature has been given a chance to proliferate. ‘It’s incredible,’ he says. ‘There’s nothing like it in western Europe. It’s very dramatic. The Dutch argue that it’s good for nature and good for people too – they’ve totted up the true value of it.’
In the UK, by contrast, wildlife reserves ‘are isolated patches’ amid human development and agricultural land. ‘We’re very conservative here. There’s a strong agricultural lobby and nature conservation is not considered a massively significant issue. Natural England has had big budget-cuts and a freeze on funding.’
At the wilder edge of rewilding is the...
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