On Thursday 2 March, Sir Charles Burrell and Peter Davies came to speak at a joint Environment & Keynes Society meeting. Burrell, a landowner and conservationist, and Davies, a hedge fund manager, came together to work on a rewilding project on the Knepp Estate, which blossomed into a rewilding business – Nattergal LTD.
Burrell spoke for the first section of the talk on the biodiversity side of the project. Previously a plot of failing farmland, Knepp has been rewilded since 2001, which involves introducing large mammals and reducing human influence on the land. As he described, free roaming grazing animals like cattle are driving this regeneration and creating a multitude of habitats – from grassland to wood pasture. Burrell stressed the huge increase in wildlife since the founding of the project. Extremely rare species like turtle doves are now breeding on the estate.
For the second half of the talk, Davies focussed on the financial side of the project, stressing how carbon and biodiversity credits play a part in environmental and social governance. As he demonstrated using several graphs, financial measures can inspire environmental action. The Knepp Estate and others owned by Nattergal are proof of this because they have been able to generate a profit in recent years while making a positive difference to the local environment and the world. The key takeaway he left us with was that for sustainability to work, it has to be financially feasible and profit-generating, not just for philanthropy and charity. It was an inspiring and hopeful talk.
Inspired by the work at of the charitable rewilding side of Knepp, the Shackleton Society at Eton issued themselves with a challenge: to run the length of the UK (1,407km) and raise £1,407 for the Knepp Wildland Foundation, a non-profit organisation working around the UK to support threatened species and increase biodiversity.
The project has been running since the 1 January and will end on Easter Sunday. The team includes eight boys and the Master (teacher) in Charge, Mr Couchman. So far, they have run 1156km and raised over £1103, with three weeks to go. The challenge translates to 16km each, every week, and gathering the motivation to do so takes ‘tough mental discipline,’ according to the team. Nevertheless, they do group runs every Thursday morning to keep morale up, even in particularly wet conditions!
The money will help the Knepp Wildland Foundation in their rewilding and conservation efforts. Donating will help add to the many hectares of habitat Knepp have already restored, and help rewild areas from Sussex to Scotland. In the words of the team, by supporting the amazing work of Knepp, we can help to ‘make a difference and improve the Sussex wildlife.’
To support this mission and inspire others, please donate to the JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/team/shacsoc2023.