A Farm Goes Wild

For years, Derek Gow worked his 400-acres in western England as a conventional sheep and cattle farm. But as both a farmer and conservationist, he knew that wasn’t right for nature. Now, he’s using his experience with British rewilding projects to return his land to what it once was: a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem.

He took down the fences and sold off the livestock, replacing domesticated animals with ancestral species, chosen for the way they create habitat for wild creatures, large and small.

Derek also reintroduced beavers to his land. Beavers had virtually disappeared from England, but Derek was on the forefront of reestablishing the species. Known for their ability as eco-engineers, they return the landscape to a natural, healthy state and restore water to the ecosystem. He’s also breeding a smaller cousin of the beaver that is another important eco-architect: water voles. They had also almost vanished, having lost the water features needed for their survival. His large-scale breeding program will export water voles throughout Britain to restore habitat and provide prey for raptors and other predators.