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Rewilding the World

We must learn to live alongside apex predators, says new podcast by Ben Goldsmith
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
A pack of Eurasian wolves relaxing under a tree

A new podcast by conservationist and financier Ben Goldsmith has urged Europeans to embrace the prospect of living amongst apex predators such as bears and wolves.
 
In his new podcast Rewilding the World, which launched on 16 May, Ben discusses the benefits that large carnivores such as bears and wolves can have on ecosystems, as well as the minimal threat they pose to humans.

The benefits of rewilding

The series launched with three episodes hosting leaders of three major rewilding projects across the globe.

The first episode features Alison Fox, CEO of American Prairie Reserve. The reserve – the largest public reserve in the contiguous United States – is looking to reintroduce a number of native species, including wild bison, to the Great Plains.

Rewilding projects will look to restore entire ecosystems to their natural state, including the reintroduction of carnivores like bears and wolves.
 
Goldsmith emphasises the benefits this can bring to natural ecosystems, as well as the minimal risk that these animals actually pose to humans.

Wolves and bears in Spain

The second episode features Deli Saavedra, head of landscapes at Rewilding Europe, whose work focuses on the Iberian Highlands in north-eastern Spain.

To Deli, rewilding is not just an environmental solution but also a solution to España vaciada, which has left much of rural Spain deserted as young people relocate to cities looking for work.
 
These less-populated areas provide a great opportunity for rewilding projects, which Deli argues will once again make the countryside an attractive prospect for Spain’s young people.
 

Deli shared his experience of successful reintroductions of wolves and bears to Spain and the role they play in managing grazing herbivore populations. Ben and Deli also discuss the animals’ contribution to attracting tourism to new parts of the country.
 
The pair discuss challenging negative public perception around living in close proximity to large predators.

Speaking about the possibility of reintroducing bears to the Iberian Highlands, Deli said: ‘I think it could be a good idea to reintroduce the brown bear. […] Definitely, there’s an ecological place for brown bears in the Iberian Highlands, but of course first we need to work on the social feasibility.’

A ‘European Yellowstone

The final episode features Christoph Promberger, executive director of Foundation Conservation Carpathia, a project seeking to build a ‘European Yellowstone’ in the Carpathian mountains.
 
Christoph shares stories of the successful reintroduction of bison and beavers, as well as their successful engagement with local people and tussles with the Romanian ‘timber mafia’.

Addressing misconceptions

The limited series features six episodes in total, with the final three episodes dropping each week. Each episode features leaders from other significant rewilding projects around the world.
 
The podcast immediately follows the launch of Ben’s new book, God is an Octopus. The book reflects on Ben’s grief after losing his teenage daughter, Iris, in a tragic accident and the solace nature offered him.

‘I wanted a platform to discuss key rewilding issues, as well as to address some common misconceptions around the practice.
 
‘Throughout the series we hear from those at the forefront of the boldest global rewilding missions on what a rewilding project work and – most importantly – why we should learn to embrace predators like bears and wolves. I was fascinated to hear how these creatures are an important part of ecosystems and pose little threat to humans.’

BEN GOLDSMITH
Conservationist and financier

Ben has also recently launched The Iris Prize, named after his late daughter, which is seeking to reward outstanding young people who are working on projects to restore nature around the world.

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