Rewilding project on former farmland

Ben Brooker, owner of Manx Roots Ltd, writes about an area of land deep in the Baldwin valley that he is nurturing for nature.

Ben Brooker, owner of Manx Roots Ltd, writes about an area of land deep in the Baldwin valley that he is nurturing for nature:

Contained by the steep slopes of the Baldwin Valley around 3.5 miles from the centre of Douglas on the Isle of Man is a very special piece of the earth called Renscault Brooghs (pronounced ‘Rens-celt Brews’).

Comprising closed canopy woodland and plantation, scrub grassland, wildflower meadow and a stretch of the River Glass, the site displays a diverse and complex range of habitats and species benefiting from a unique microclimate formed by the surrounding trees and topography, its southerly aspect and a distinct lack of human presence.

The site measures around 25 acres, or 10 hectares, and was once part of Renscault Farm. Around 20 years ago, this unproductive farmland was separated from the working farm and, for the mostpart, given back to nature.

20 years later we now have a truly magnificent site which we will manage with a minimal intervention approach based on the rewilding philosophy. Our mantra is ‘protect the best, rewild the rest’.

I am a tree guy by profession, having spent my entire working life with trees as an arborist and, in recent years, an arboricultural consultant.

I don’t profess to be an ecologist, but I do know a bit about trees and woodlands and have gained a deep appreciation for their wider ecology and the rewilding approach which, to me, seems to make perfect sense; why should we think we can do it better than nature?

That being said, I understand that leaving the site completely unmanaged could result in important grassland habitats and their wildflower species being consumed by bracken, gorse and, eventually, trees.

Therefore, to follow our mantra, we will aim to conserve the wildflower habitats yet let the remaining site do what it wants wherever possible.

As already mentioned, my specialism is trees so we welcome any professional ecologists, passionate conservationists and rewilders, and any person who feels they can make a meaningful contribution to get in touch and share their ideas and opinions.

The project is 100% owned and managed by my company Manx Roots Limited and we are currently in the phase of watching what the site presents throughout the year before forming long-term aims and objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, share your opinions and ideas or simply just watch the story unfold, please visit our website or email ben@trees.im

You can also follow the progress of Renscault Brooghs via the Manx Roots facebook page.

 

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