Chris Packham and the Recreate Royals campaign had a “really wonderful” meeting with the Crown Estate to ask them to consider entrusting part of their 615,000 acres to the wilderness.
Packham said the Crown ownership is “clearly in line” with Rebuild Wildcard in its determination to work to address biodiversity and climate crises by changing the way land is managed.
Crown ownership is the royal family’s £14.1 billion real estate portfolio, which includes urban areas such as Regent Street in central London as well as 264,000 acres of farmland, woodland and highlands.
“It has tremendous potential for repackaging and they know it,” Packham said. “We didn’t talk about bears, wolves, and lynxes, and they were very receptive.”
At the meeting, Wildcard proposed that the Crown property pledge to make room for nature on a proportion of its land. The group also proposed a panel of expert scholars to advise it on rebuilding, and asked if Crown ownership would hold a discussion with other major landowners such as Church Commissioners, the National Trust and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge to discuss rebuilding and the nature recovery on their lands.
Wildcard also asked Crown Estates to consider doing “opportunity mapping” to calculate the optimal areas of its landholding for a return to nature – areas between two nature reserves, for example, that could join the landscape.
The Crown told Wild Card that it will respond to the proposals in the new year, when it meets the campaign group again.
The Wild Card campaign has so far been unsuccessful in securing a meeting to discuss rebuilding with the Royal Family, the Duchy of Cornwall and Lancaster.
The royal family including the dukes also owns an estimated 867,500 acres of land, an area twice the size of Greater London, including most of Dartmoor, the highlands of Wales, the Isles of Scilly and the estates at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire and Sandringham in Norfolk.
Packham said he hoped the positive response from the crown prince would encourage the royal family to engage with their proposals.
He said, “It would be great to see Crown ownership take the lead in rewinding in a practical way on the business scene, and it would give confidence to others to do the same.”
Early analyzes by Dr. Steve Carver and Dr. Jonathan Carruthers-Jones at the Wildland Research Institute indicate that some Crown Proprietorship lands “have high potential for rebuilding and can be valuable to multiple species as well as being structurally important for landscape connectivity at the local and national level” .
A Crown Proprietorship spokesperson said: “The Crown Proprietorship recognizes the urgent need to address the climate and environmental emergency. Alongside our commitment to being a zero-zero business by 2030, we are actively seeking solutions to restore biodiversity and the natural world, including by providing habitats protection, and decarbonization of the atmosphere across our portfolio. We continue to review the role our land holdings can play in addressing these important challenges, and are working closely with our many partners and stakeholders to help make a difference.”
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