Rewilding: eco friendly or frugal laziness?

Rewilding has gripped the nation, ‘but the trend for leaving nature to its own devices in order to create a habitat for plants and animals to thrive has become divisive’ writes Boudicca Fox-Leonard.

Weeds growing through pavement
Weeds growing through pavement

She is not alone, vocal critics such as Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh have described the rewilding craze as ‘ill-considered’, ‘loaded with misleading propaganda’, capable of depleting gardens of ‘botanical riches’ and to be ‘catastrophic for wildlife’.

‘The council’s decision was well-intentioned – but created a city full of unsafe, overgrown roads and pavements’, writes Fox-Leonard in the Telegraph.

After the 2019 consensus, Brighton council banned toxic weed killers that included chemicals such as glyphosate. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been the subject of many studies and legal challenges regarding its potential to cause cancer and environmental damage. However, the now weed choked paths and verges have become hazards to the people of Brighton.

Whilst many support a reduction and/or ban in herbicides, the failure to provide another solution is clear on the streets of Brighton, and for that matter – councils across the country. Fox-Leonard writes that ‘Some residents worry about the damage as a result of a policy of neglect. “After three years of nothing being done, the curbs are starting to lift from large roots of trees that haven’t been pollarded. And the pavement is more uneven,” said one. “If they’ve been trying to save money then it’s a false saving in the long run. It’s going to cost them a fortune to put it right.”’

There is growing scepticism if the policy was intended to be environmentally friendly or part of a cost saving measure by the council. Without suitable alternatives for herbicides, residents are taking matters into their own hands, many using the very herbicides that very insecticides they originally were trying to curb the use of.