Even though we have given up intensive arable and dairy farming at Knepp, we are still farming, albeit in a much more extensive way, rather like ranching. We produce 75 tonnes (live weight) of pasture-fed, organic, free-roaming meat from the project every year. There is no supplementary feeding or human intervention, other than when absolutely necessary, so this is a very low-carbon method of producing top quality food.
We now also provide other vital services, or 'ecosystems services', for the public good. Rewilding Knepp has resulted in huge gains in terms of soil restoration, carbon sequestration, water storage and water purification, flood mitigation, air purification, habitat for rare species and other wildlife - including pollinating insects, and space for nature, contributing to human health and enjoyment.
In 2012, a report by DEFRA quantifying eight key ‘ecosystem services’ showed that Knepp’s scores had improved dramatically from the previous regime of intensive farming (the blue line in the spidergram below). The services produced under rewilding (the red line in the spidergram) rose from 2 to 5 for carbon sequestration; from 3 to 5 for recreation; from 2 to 5 for energy/fuel; from 1 to 4 for flood protection; 3 to 4 for raw materials; with aesthetics and provision of food remaining the same at 5, and fresh water at 2.
Helm, Dieter. Natural Capital – valuing the planet. (Yale University Press, 2015)
Juniper, Tony. What Nature Does for Britain. (Profile Books, 2015)
Lawton, John. Making Space for Nature - a review of England’s wildlife sites and ecological network. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (16 September 2010)