#11: Rewilding and the beaver with Derek Gow
Everyone needs to know about rewilding, in my opinion.
Rewilding is an evocative concept. Notions of the good old days! A lush and lively community of species going about their business undeterred, swapping planes in the sky for a cornucopia of birds and bees, and on the ground, boar, bears, bison, wolves and maybe beaver too. Not just a return, but perhaps a new accommodation - humans and the rest of the ecosystem in balance. Rewilding. It sounds cool.
Pandemic and lockdowns created space and caught imaginations. In the absence of other distractions, we town and city-dwellers started noticing the birds in our gardens, while in Barcelona the city’s boar population is out of control and in Wales mountain goats invaded a town. And lots of us have heard about the rare species that have returned to Chernobyl of all places, and how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park unlocked an amazing cascade of ecosystem improvements. ‘Nature is healing’ was the optimistic meme.
Derek Gow has spent a lifetime caring for, cultivating and reintroducing species in the UK. A farmer and a conservationist, and now author of the funny, irreverent and moving book ‘Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man's Quest to Rewild Britain's Waterways’, he tells it how he sees it.
Gow knows what rewilding takes. He’s spent decades doing it. Fighting red tape and the affluent countryside lobbies. Breeding and introducing delicate creatures through trial and error. As an authority and a practitioner, Derek can share an accurate and grounded point of view about how real rewilding is or isn’t, how pressing the need is and what the major barriers are to making better, faster progress, today.
In this conversation you’ll learn about keystone species, about why the beaver is so surprisingly impactful on its ecosystem, you’ll hear about the white-tailed eagles ‘the size of a flying barn door’ being reintroduced across the UK, you’ll get a clear sense of how you can support rewilding efforts and loads more. And you’ll enjoy Derek’s fluent, fiery, no-nonsense account.
Derek Gow - Twitter
Bringing Back the Beaver: The Story of One Man's Quest to Rewild Britain's Waterways by Derek Gow (book on Amazon)
Beavers on the River Tamar, Devon (opens PDF)
White-tailed Eagle reintroduction - Roy Dennis Foundation
Knepp - ground-breaking rewilding project in Sussex, UK
Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree (book on Waterstones)
Further listening #8: Understanding our plants and fungi with Dr Ilia Leitch
Music by Lee Rosevere
Will McInnes 0:00
So did you did you get an eagle today?
Derek Gow 0:04
I've not been anywhere near the farm today I've been up looking at another project and Bridgewater nowhere near that goodness knows hopefully but I won't see till tomorrow
Will McInnes 0:15
right Where's Bridgewater in the world?
Derek Gow 0:18
Somerset so when I'm looking at we rewire a rewilding project on a farm there lots of people really interested in smaller areas of land taking smaller areas of land 120 acres or something like that and looking at how you restore it for nature so was up seeing charming couple who run our you know, organic fruit and vege operation there and already have an area which is incredibly rich and wildlife Big Finish flocks, like so which I haven't seen for years, I say the game leading areas, and then it's just down to the, the crops and the seeds and the untidiness of it all. And because you've got that you've got nature, it's not very complicated.
Will McInnes 1:04
I love it. I love it. That's so so fantastic. I'd love to just start by introducing you and saying, you know, welcome,
Unknown Speaker 1:14
Will McInnes 1:15
I've been really inspired following you have read your book recently. And on the book sleeve, it describes you as a farmer and a conservationist is that is that the feel like the right kind of label for you?
Derek Gow 1:27
And yeah, I don't see any contradiction between the two things. To be quite honest, this idea there in amicable is just nonsense. At the end of the day, if you farm wisely with our main to other life, you can do much. So I see no contradiction in that.
Will McInnes 1:43
Just to get us going, you know, my experiences. I'm a lay person I'm I have had a kind of nerdy, but amateurish fascination with birds of prey. My recent story, which would be, you know, the pandemic, being stuck at home, becoming obsessed with the bird feeder in the garden, and you see these kind of memes of nature is healing. And someone ended up recommending a nap to me, and I live in Brighton. I'm speaking to you now from Brighton, that you're down in the West Country in Devon.
Unknown Speaker 2:17
That's right. Yeah.
Will McInnes 2:18
I've got myself over to nap. And we did the data with my two boys who are just early teens and hearing about every species of bat and Owl and rare species of visiting birds and solitary bees. And from there, I found my way to you and your exploits on Twitter and, and your book. And, you know, I would love to hear a short kind of potted history of your story. How did you get to be doing this work?
Derek Gow 2:43
When I was very small, I became involved with the rare breed survival trust, I always had some pet sheep at home, where I live in a town in the Scottish Borders, called beggar. And when I think I was about maybe 10. Somebody gave me a Shetland sheep as a pet. No, at that time, these old breeds of livestock were very rare. I mean, they were very uncommonly kept. And you drive through landscapes and just not see any flocks of colour cheap, or Longhorn cattle or anything like it. And so when I was given this, I think also they gave me a book for my birthday about, you know, these old but it was written by a chap called john Vince, about the old breeds of domestic livestock, their history, that confinement to the Western Isles, or, you know, in the case of white Park capital, the containment and the last of the hunting parks. And when you start to read the stories of these remarkable creatures, you know, you're basically on VR unravelling a tapestry of British history. And I became very interested in that and then I, I graduated, you know, from that to, you know, reading Gerald Donald's books and his expeditions and South America and all the colourful characters he met and entailed, and his say, in a search for, for animals to bring back for zoos. And then later in his life, obviously he, he turned to the idea that zoos could be so much more than they should be ARKS, saving creatures for a better future, and then restoring them when when the world was a better place. So I mean, that's really what inspired me at the beginning. It was nothing complicated. It wasn't a university education, or anything like it. I left school when I was 17, to work in agriculture for five years. And when I was made redundant at the end of that, then, I was offered the opportunity to, to manage a collection of rare breed domestic livestock in a place called palace, Rick Country Park on the outskirts of Glasgow. I did that for a number of years. As I was doing it, they asked me if I wanted to manage the zoo. And I did that so I came to work with a very broad range of British and European wildlife species in captivity. And was asked to understand how you read them how you maintain them effectively. And from that point, I guess, somewhere in the region of 30 years ago, the idea that some of these could be reintroduced a time when the world was better, which we don't seem to have quite achieved yet. Was was was was born and I became involved with waterfalls and beavers and I'm now working on wild cats and other species with a view to reintroducing them back into parts of the law strange.
Will McInnes 5:33
So, so cool, and I know that people listening will already be really dialled in to what you're saying. Like just the fact that you're now helping to introduce and work with wild cats is just incredibly exciting. So according to the list that I've put together, you've bred wild cats, white storks, European field hamsters, harvest mice, night, herons, stoats, water shrews. polecats.
Derek Gow 6:02
Yeah, I mean, it's many.
Will McInnes 6:05
Okay, goes that's not that's not even the half of it.
Derek Gow 6:09
No, nowhere near
Unknown Speaker 6:10
Will McInnes 6:11
So what we're going to come on to beavers and we're going to come on to sort of a broader view, but how would you characterise the state of British wildlife today? Like, you're you're, you're in Britain, I'm in Britain. Not all of the listeners will be but but what, you know, what's it like out there?
Derek Gow 6:34
It's truly terrible. I mean, you're looking at a landscape where life is no longer just leaching from it. Life has left. Yes, the sheep and cattle Yes, the fields are green. But in many parts of the British Isles, when you examine what's under the greenness, then you find soils that are dead, full of pesticides. You know, with no worms, no mycorrhizal fungus, no soil, invertebrates, you know, just look near lifeless in art. The big animals have all gone, we extinguish them a long time ago in the past, we kept a few of them, the ones we wanted to hunt we cultivated and, and ensured they were there. So the Red Deer and, and the foxes you know, they remained because at the end of the day, not because the O wetted us but because, you know, people will instruct you that these animals were the creatures that another kind of person wanted to chase up and down the landscape on horseback. And if they removed them, then there would be repercussions. So, you know, what we've got is is the most bizarre and distorted Guild of creatures imaginable. We have species living free here from all over the globe, you go into the London parks and you're besieged by paddock eats, you wander through, you know, woodlands and in the Midlands and one of the commonest you, you'll see, you will encounter Asiatic muntjac and yet the The Guild of creatures that should be here have been much diminished by us. And as I say, when you come to modern times, you know, what you find is with an intensification of farming, and, you know, coupled with, you know, a very different view of what forestry should be, you know, plantation forestry, you know, solid blocks of alien conifers that we've done really pretty much everything we could do to eradicate life from the land. No, some of that, for sure was unintentional, but the near end result has been that by the time you look at a landscape, my my farm and then on the Devon Cornwall border overviewing Dharma, that the wading birds that redshanks, the lapwings, the curlews have all gone, you know, in the last generation, and the generation before that the hen Harriers, the black grows, the wheatears nesting on our farm to they've all gone to. I know, we're left with olanski, whether a few Meadow pipits and a few small family groups of other birds, but other than that, there's really nothing much left. Left Alive. It's It's It's really a pretty deplorable situation
Will McInnes 9:13
that's utterly despairing. That is awful. And what also occurs to me and this is kind of embarrassing to admit, but is that even though I'm enthusiastic about nature and the wildlife, that a lot of those birds species that you've mentioned, I wouldn't recognise them I wouldn't know. I wouldn't be able to pick out a Curlew or, or a black grouse or a hen Harrier from a from a Castro and so it strikes me reading your book, reading Isabella's trees book reading around the subject, I'm starting to realise that our vocabulary in kind of mainstream society has become very reduced. It's it's we don't recommend Is the tree species and we don't recognise that the kind of Fauna and Flora around us to the extent that I feel I personally absolutely should, what I'd love to understand is in in your book bringing back the Beaver, which is fantastic, and I hope doing very well because it's really funny and mixes, you know the seriousness of the situation and the scale of the opportunity with with many a hilarious tale. One thing I'd love for people listening to understand is can you tell us what a keystone species is? Like, what what is it that about these particular species that leads to such great outcomes downstream?
Derek Gow 10:42
Well, all species are important and all species have impact. So at the end of it all, there is no species that's developed as part of a guild of life, which is fair to say is an essential you remove one. And there are always implications for for the others, and the landscapes and the environments that surround them. But a keystone species is it's it's very simpler. The you know, the the terminology comes from the idea that you have this board are shovels, stone, supporting a bridge, and the key stone is a stone that links the two sides without which the whole structure can stand. And if you pull it out, it just goes boom, into the river. And that's the end of that you have no bridge and you have to swim with your sacks of carrots on your head from market and one side to your cabinet field. The other. So that's a keystone species. And it's a term we use to lightly I mean, I've had in the time that I've been involved in this a certain conferences where people tell me that crayfish are a keystone species or have perhaps even said that waterfalls are a keystone species, species and, you know, really, they're not. And beavers are not a keystone species, the North Americans who know them much better than we do, will tell you that they're not a keystone species because they're actually much more important than that, that a force of nature that a natural force, in their own right, and this natural force, by by holding water, in vast quantities and valley landscapes by breaking forests by creating great complexities of dams and impoundments. By engineering landscapes to suit itself has a huge impact on natural function and and on on the on the Guild of other species that surround it. So there's ample evidence now for the world range that you know, Beaver Dam complex is slow the flow of water for example, during flood events, you know, we look at our rivers and streams gushing rapidly from the, you know, the treeless sheep shore and uplands down into the valley bottoms developing into raging torrents that then race through the landscapes again, that are denuded of anything that would naturally inhibit their progress because of course, we've so extensively drained and failed, you know, bypass the site channels that we think are relevant river or stream as being something that runs in a single water course along the the the bottom of a valley to a thing called a river, which then runs in a single water course with other canalys water waterways, even though we call them rivers, which are just largely drains, you know, all for flowing like arterial functions into this main water body. But, of course, it was never that way before. I mean, what we've essentially done if you want an analogy is we've taken, you know, a body that you can see through and we've stripped out all the capabilities, and we've left some of the veins and we straighten some that are not quite in the right position as far as our function is concerned. And we've left some of the RFPs, but not all of them. And that's how we've engineered water so that when, when the rains come, the rain hits the compacted clay ground or the bare ground, there are no trees to absorb it anymore races across the land and to the water courses and boom, you have flooding and misery. And the other side of that, that. The other flip side of that is that as as the climate warms and becomes more and more unstable, is that we end up with water that we simply can't retain in the landscape because it's so effectively drained, that as soon as it falls, it leaves and you end up with drought and beavers basically, act two to regulate both of those functions. The wetlands, which are large means so for example, in my farm, you know, we have a system of old Victorian drains that run through the bottom of the farm. And these things are maybe seven, eight foot deep. They're eroded down to bedrock. No. And when you know when it rains, they're raging torrents. When it doesn't rain, there's no water in them. So there are no fish. There are no dragonflies. There are no there are no there are no muscles that are no and Kingfisher speeding. There are no otters there are no frogs there's there's nothing that relies on water. And what the beavers have done is the beavers have basically blocked them again and again and again and again in
multiple different ways to the points where, you know, the maybe punched holes in the ditch sides and other streams that were never there before are flowing. They've impounded those as well and other streams flow as a result of that. So whenever the animal none of that water would be there. And without water, none of that life would be there. through the summer months, the deer wouldn't drink the boar wouldn't wallow. beavers, as I said, Our keystone species, they're an incredibly important function of nature. And that's why it's critical that we restore them.
Will McInnes 15:51
I absolutely love that. And there's a snippet that I'll read from your book, if I may, which is really just caught me. Which is, she was fragrant of wooden Herbes of the indescribable sweet smell of beavers that once recognised, you can sometimes catch in a willow wood on a warm day in landscapes where you know, frustratingly they are not, but should be. And it's just beautiful and really captured for me the relationship that you have with the species. So where are we with beavers in the UK right now.
Derek Gow 16:32
We are in a place where we have made a beginning. And having made a beginning are We are in a situation where there is clear political support for the restoration of the species. There is a rising widespread understanding of just how important they are the the old arguments about fish impediment and agricultural damage, fading away fast. But we're not doing this well. We are a very hesitant people. were good at standing on a world stage and blogging about our own Wharf kind of like you know, Toad of Toad Hall type characters full of hot air, and our own importance and when it actually comes to not very good at doing very much at all. I've sat in an auditorium in Europe where small shrill British scientists have told people from from Norway and Sweden and Belgium and Germany, and France, whoa, when eventually we got round to reintroducing the beaver in Britain, our models suggested it would be the best introduction ever. And you know, it says an awful lot for people like that. And they have the human grease to actually listen to these fools. And at least some of them clap them at the clapped at the end, I don't think I would have done so at the end of all, we're just braggarts. So we're in a place now where recommendations are being made to government with regard to what shouldn't shouldn't be done with beavers in England and Scotland. There's a massive fight because the Scottish Minister for farming has said there can be no extension of the range of the species that's not through natural dispersal in Scotland to pleases chums in the Scottish Farmers Union. And therefore they're they're issuing licences to kill animals that could be used elsewhere. And Wales. You know, they're basically the Welsh executive of of them all have behaved terribly badly. they've they've, they've marked organisations that the Wildlife Trust grown for years, they've, you know, tried to come up with with reason after reason why there should be no beavers and whales, and there should be no movement to restore nature there that's meaningful. And, and it's frankly, the people involved in this are beamed in a way that's truly shameful. I mean, the next couple of days, I hope to see some of the some of the background correspondence with regard to this that explains, you know, the course of thinking but I think it's fair to say that there in the mean, the people who are there to try and hold the status quo, have not behaved well with regard to the restoration of this creature. And I'm not behave well with regard to the restaurant, restaurant relation of nature that would follow us return. And you know, frankly, I think that's really disappointing because they're not there to make decisions about whether something's right of their own of their own volition. They're there to do what people want and if their boss is at the top of telling them to do something, and people don't below are expecting them to do something. And if they realise at all, this is a time of, you know, massive climate change in global extinction, then they should be acting to facilitate projects, their restore species like the beaver and not simply getting in the way.
Will McInnes 19:57
They definitely, definitely should and at the end of this, I'll be asking you what we can do to help throw our weight behind this. If I'm ambling around the right piece of countryside in the UK, is it possible I can find beavers living wild?
Derek Gow 20:13
Sure, you can go to the river otter and the visible river otter, if you go to the T that are that are places where you can see them as an estate at a place called bump, you know where you can walk through and see all the dams that are you know, on the catron Trail off to one side of the footpath you can go and watch them in in knapdale and can tire and unknown places like that over stowed and can't there is a free living population of beavers and indeed on the river Tamar in Devon There are also beavers you can kayak kayak up the river from places like CT Hill and perhaps see them in the in the dusk have a warm summer night or in the morning miss when the when the heat starts to draw the water off forever. So yes, there are an increasing number of places you can go to see beavers, though they are still a real animal in the British Isles, I mean a national population of maybe only about one and a half 2000 animals.
Will McInnes 21:13
So we've got these shrill, shrill braggarts proclaiming confidently that we're doing the right thing in the kind of regulatory layer. And then we've got a small growing but very rare still population of animals living successfully and wildly in the UK.
Derek Gow 21:34
Yes, we have, right.
Will McInnes 21:36
And then, you know, governments and regulatory bodies, if I get anything from your book, it's that they seem depressingly inept and actively against these initiatives. What I would love to do is we've we've covered that. The angle also that interests me is that, you know, land is under the control of landowners. Clearly, farmers play a crucial role in this their attitudes, their beliefs, what they're trying to achieve the incentives in the systems that they are operating within you in the people at Napa have from farming. And yet it seems the farming community is very often opposed to rewilding efforts. what's what's what's your take on that?
Derek Gow 22:19
Well, I think that's the way that paradigm is often pitch, but it's not as straightforward as that. I mean, yesterday, I went see someone my next door neighbor's and we're standing in the yard, and we're having a chat about one or two different things. And and the way for the lady who had asked me to come for a chair, says Ray Dalio, how could we possibly get beavers on our land in the valley bottom, and you look at her and she's on the Tamar and you know, they're common, they're common, the day will not be far away, when they find their wetland and the valley bottoms and they start to reshape it in the way they did. You know, when they were last there, you know, maybe 800 1000 years ago. So there are people who are immensely sympathetic. There are many people who understand that the changes of the 70s the 80s, the 90s were very wrong and that the damage the pesticides did the land improvement the crop changes the chemicals that enabled us to, you know, just grow without dung anymore to to just worm sheep without considering the numbers we were keeping all the things that seemed like a brave new world are no increasingly being seen for what the where, which is an unsustainable charade there are farmers who care very deeply I mean, today I was in an organic fruit and vege farm you wander around, and as I said, I mean there are flocks of chaffinches there, hundreds of them, big flocks of Linares, hundreds of them, the lady was telling me she seen bramblings just you know the glass last winter flocks of bramblings and they're they're flying into the the you know, this these are regular rows of corn or kale, the the the owners lay everything seed they have lots of rough areas around the edge. So when dogs grow in their vegetables that the dogs are eating No, but the doc beetles and and when you look at inches, well it's a bit untidy in that untidiness, you have real life you have the predators or some of the crop pests, you have the predators of some of the weed species, it's really an amazing thing to see. So farmers are a very mixed bunch. There are people who care from our personal point of view, and from because they just feel the way we've come to is not right. And there are also people who frankly are looking at the economic situation, as it's changing from from this old system of you know, State subsidy big amounts of taxpayers money just being given to other individuals and society for doing you know, actually, nothing much. I mean, it's just been so wrong for so long, that there are a class of people who are, who are poor, who have to feed their children go to the food banks, and yet there are other people in society, who are given hundreds of 1000s of pounds of everybody else's money, simply because they own land. And and, and really just act on their own selfish interests after that. So it's changing is changing really fast. The new system of government payments, you know, as enshrined in the 25 year environment plan, the end and environmental land management series of payments that are due to come in, you know, are targeted at rewarding people who basically create land and live user land sympathetically, and create living space for nature. And increasingly, the heartening bit about what I do as a day job known is that you meet really very many of them, you know, people who are tunnelling ready to say, you know, you're gonna have to trust us, because we are the solution. And we can actually do things that you know, no system of state organisation is going to deliver, you know, we can change, we want to change, and there are very many people like that,
Will McInnes 26:22
oh, that's fantastic to hear really, really positive and really promising. So thank you. And I love your point about the untidiness of that organic fruit farm. And that was one of the things that I've taken from, from exploring this topic of rewilding through your book and through others, which is that the landscape isn't supposed to look manicured. I mean, that's obvious, but but that in the foreign tree that doesn't get moved in the carcass that doesn't get taken away in the, in the mixture of what happens. That's where the kind of richness of the species really start to prosper. So it's great to hear that. What I'd love to know is, it's where do you think we can get to, like, where you're a pragmatist? You're a realist, you're a sleeves rolled up person who gets this stuff done. Where can we get to,
Derek Gow 27:15
we can sort this out, we are a clever species. You know, we was talking to a film producer in Los Angeles the other day, and they are they're working on, you know, on a film production, which looks at the problems that this planet has, and it looks at the solutions that are behind, which are so incredible, and asked the question, why don't we do it? And this is the biggest problem is it's not that we can't change it's not that we can look at the ruined landscape that we made and say, Well, look, we made it, we made it this way we can reshape it, we can look at you know, a sustainable agriculture, we can look at returning organic farming, you know, with dung, going back into the span of broken old arable fields that are, are no reduced to nothing much older, and Dustin, have plenty examples, you know, of farmers worldwide who've done just exactly that we can regenerate land that basically has just been been beaten to near death by us we can, we can reform wetlands, we can learn to read tolerate an animal like the Beaver, which is not our enemy. It's so greatest friends, we can restore lost species like the pine Marten and the wild cat, which we're just fleed from the landscape. Bye, bye bye bye. mediaeval hunters for far or to protect rabbits are the gatekeepers, because they believed quite firmly that they were there to ensure that none of their masters, you know, targets were eaten by any other creature, we can do this there are some people out there, you know, small cadres of folk who have mains that are still based in medievalism, whose whose thoughts and actions are dark, but you know, as a percentage of society, they're fading away, no, and that's a good thing. It's high time, these backward views of what the landscape should be, you know, just weather then died. And we could also, you know, in the end, look forward to, you know, perhaps the restoration of animals like the wolf, at the end of the day, when you look at the history of interaction, you know, we had with that animal it was all to do with, you know, more or less in a Western European sense. This, this, this idea of Christian author of, of taking a landscape taking an environment and returning it to the ordered hand of God so that when travellers, you know, coming through a wilderness, cross the valley ridge and look down on a landscape that was shaped by the cistercians. You know, there were the You know the eggs and the walled garden there were the fattened pigs you know the the milking cows everything was ordered by God and what an impression it created so when you look at the landscape the garden landscape we have no the huge extent you see that in absurd mimic, you know the landscape of this island was never meant to be one gigantic, gigantic garden with, you know mourn and graced fields flailed straight hedges. No wetlands, no rocks left in the pasture. No fallen trees is just nonsense. What we need is more untidiness, not only a physical but a mental untidiness, that starts to look at things that conflict with us and doesn't always when they do reach for a bottle of poison or a gun or a trap. That's that's not not the way that we're going to. to re bond with nature. We need to look at forging a different future,
Will McInnes 31:01
just utterly compelling, utterly compelling and, and so brilliantly put. I see from your Twitter that you're currently feeding some some eagles. I think it would surprise a lot of people to know that that some of these species of birds are out there and on the return I've actually got a tattoo of a Rob kite on my arm because for me, I was always interested in birds of prey and the first time I saw a red kite, which was I don't know not that long ago, less than 10 years ago, it was an amazing sight because it was a bigger than normal bird. But you're you're trying to feed something even bigger Can you just let us know what what's going on?
Derek Gow 31:46
Well whitetail eagle is a bird that you know the bird books will tell you is the size of a flying barn door so I mean you're looking at the you know a bird that is near and tight to a vulture than an eagle
and the air in the ER any Are those the gills called Eagle with a sun in it sigh was a common bird right the way through the British Isles and and it survived in the southwest until very recently, if you look at maps of Dart moved from the 1840s they'll show you where we're where the bustards were where the Eagles were where the spoon bells were, where the Queens were where the pine Martens wherever the stone Martin's wherever the polecats were, you know our landscape that's just no saw ascetically deprived of life that if you see a stone chat which is a bird the size of our most you're doing awfully well. The last of the refusals are just about done this West sub dying it's just hangar we come to this and and you'll look at it now and say well, what is rock bottom going to look like? By the time the insects have gone and they're collapsing by 50 75% I much worse gonna actually get so we have a big task at our hands and and restoring birds. Like the white tailed eagle is very much part of it. The only reason why we killed them in the past was down to the the deepest of ignorance. Yes, some people told stories of them, you know, cutting away children surely pillaged? You know, dead livestock. But at the end of all, it wasn't a meat. Well, it was, you know, in fairness, if you look back to Elizabeth and times, he looked at the percentage of crops, both domestic livestock and green, it was taken by other species, you can argue that when you were peasant farming, that this was a significant a significant thing to have happen. We are not peasant farming anymore, a third of the food we produce in Britain is just wasted. And then when we it's wasted before it gets to a play, and then when we actually get it to a plate, we waste even more. So we're farming land that could never really grow anything. And it has only been hailed in Thrall because of the public subsidies that have enabled the people, people farming the fairly poorly bred sheep and remote areas, you know, to do so. So it's time for change in those eagles are part of it, because when the farm subsidies finish, you're going to have to look at what you're going to do with all this land in a different way. And and the argument that we can't have rewilding we can't have nature is because you've got a collapsing industrial lobby. That's there to serve its own interests, its members, the interests of the pesticide companies and the suppliers of of fertiliser and and and and and and and warmers for sheep and cattle. That's why they're making a big fuss about it is because they No no. If you lose the ear of government and they lose the poll at the certainty of money, other people's money has given them then they will feed and Never be as important as they have been to date. And that, frankly, is a good thing. At the end of all, if we're looking at changing this landscape, I very often hear when we sit down and talk about beavers and people whining about the ones that are illegally in inverted commas released on the tear, but how much damage is done? Oh, we should have asked people first and, you know, this is just wrong and people should have been consulted. And in the end, you've got to look at this waning and see what what for what it is, it's the face a mask elite, whereby, you know, the people that are claiming that they're the virtuous in a certain sense really are not, you know, they're really good at pulling levers behind the scenes persuading politicians and, and those that make decisions that their, their their voice is more important than anybody else's. And I but what they do see is that you know, we should have more discussion and we should be open and what we do, I think that's a good thing. I think we should be open and what we do, I think we should start asking people whose money we're taking what should happen to you know, do they want to pay that money to poison half of Lincolnshire to the point where the waters leaving the land are so toxic that fish can't even live in them anymore? Or do they want to use that money to create farmland where animals live decent lives, not as many of them where they are, you know, kept as part of family units whether a wildflowers growing in the corner whether harvest mice and and and and the untrimmed hay jgs, whether it's white tailed eagles, soaring overhead and weather are beavers where you've actually got other creatures that you could cherish existing and that landscape around you. Let's ask people what they want to do. The Sharad is that we never have. So I think that there has to be a different way of doing this and, and asking people what they want is a very big part of it.
Will McInnes 36:50
That's a really exciting prospect. And I love this momentum that you're building for, you know, calling on the people to express express what they want, especially given that we are paying for so much of this. And the prospect of barn door sized Eagles soaring in the air is very, very appealing to me. So as we as we bring this fantastic conversation to a close Derrick, my question is, what can we do? What can I do as everyday people to support a richer wild or ecology? What What do you implore from us or instruct us or, you know, point point somewhere,
Derek Gow 37:30
when an issue comes along, make a fuss, you don't just understand your issues? Well, don't just accept what's in a simple newspaper article, try to sit if you really care, try to sit down, to read to understand there's so much information out there. And when something comes along, and it's going wrong, you rate your politicians, and you object, if you feel like it support some of the smaller organisations, there's some brilliant organisations out there, like the Roy Dennis foundation for, for for nature, conservation is run by, you know, a man who's just near and credible, who spent the 80 odd years of his existence on this planet reintroducing some of the big lost birds like the white tailed Eagle, or the or the Osprey, you know, just and who's who's talked for a very long time about what we need to do, and it manages to do what he does with very little money. don't support the big guys, the big guys or, or find a way through, if you give some of your money, which is always limited to people that they will act well. There are other people out there who are asking for money, who are charlatans, again, research those people and make sure you don't spend money unwisely, on doing on trying to do something, it's never going to come to anything in the end. So there are things you can do lobbying politicians being one but in the end, if you own any kind of amount of land to be a small farm or a garden or an acre, whatever it is, think again about what you're doing with it. If you're a small holder, start to move your farming away from the edge, talk to your neighbours. See, if there's some way you can create corridors through landscapes. So the harvest mice or glow worms, which need rough gas pawsox, you know, can actually find living space and an environment that's fundamentally turned against them. Let your hedges grow along, you know, create more ponds and pools. Don't worry about piles, a lot of rocks lying around or big piles of logs, rotting in a corner, just let them be understand what nature needs and you start to do what you can. Because at the end of the day, the more of you that do that, then the more space will work but there will be for other life too.
Will McInnes 39:41
Absolutely. Fantastic. Well, I would love to say a massive thank you to you direct for the work that you do for the book that you've written for joining us on the podcast and in terms of people being able to to follow you you're at Gao underscore Derek. So that's g o w underscore Derek on Twitter. The book is bringing back the Beaver. Just thank you so much, Derek. I really, really appreciate what you've done is awesome.
Derek Gow 40:07
That's very kind glad we persevered.
Will McInnes 40:10
Yeah, me too. Thank you and keep up the great work.