Help us create a big new rewilding site in England

by Jan Stannard in Maidenhead, England, United Kingdom

£64,566

 
Gift Aid
+ est. £338.75
£180,000 target 26 days left
35% 70 supporters
Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 10th May 2021 at 11:55pm

We want to create an amazing new place for wildlife in England, rewilding the land to help nature recover and to fight climate change

by Jan Stannard in Maidenhead, England, United Kingdom

We're on a mission to create an amazing new place for nature in England, not for profit but for wild things and all of us.  


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Heal is the world's first charity dedicated to becoming a rewilding landowner

Our mission is to buy land in England and rewild it, not for profit but to help nature recover and to fight climate change. 

We are the world's first charity dedicated to becoming a rewilding landowner. Our name is our purpose: heal the land, heal nature, heal ourselves. With your help, we're going to create a new rewilding site by taking ecologically depleted land and giving it back to nature. 

You live in the 189th most nature-depleted place in the world - that's terrible

We're aiming to buy this large flagship site by 2022 or sooner. Together, we can do this and we have to do it fast - the state of nature in the UK is dire. This is an emergency. We need to give back some of the land we've taken from nature in this country, which has made the UK the 189th most nature-depleted place in the world. When was Britain, as a nation, ever 189th at something? That isn't okay. We can do so much better - and we will. And we all know about the climate emergency. Rewilding helps fight climate change too.

Making rewilding happen couldn't be simpler: find money, buy land and give it back to nature.

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Rewilding heals nature and the climate

Rewilding is an amazing way help heal nature and the climate. Nature is in charge instead of us. 

And with nature in the driving seat, magic happens. 

The land begins to heal. The soil starts to brim with life. Animals browse and rootle and scuff up the land. Seeds drift in, settle on bare earth and flowers bloom. Baby trees spring up. Brambles blossom and feed hungry bees. Ants scurry, moths flutter, mice scuttle. Beetles trundle, butterflies swoop, foxes lope. Birds sing their hearts out. Beavers...beaver. 

The air is bright and clear. Rain falls and runs out fresh and clean. The plants and trees capture carbon as they grow stronger. Chemicals no longer harm the land. Within a generation, creatures galore fill this place that nature has reclaimed.

The Heal Appeal will help us turn this vision into reality

Turning our vision into a reality involves a ton of work and money. We have made amazing headway in a really short time but we need more support. This project will mean we can speed up and scale up everything we're doing to meet our 2022 goal of opening our flagship site. Then one day, we hope you will come and visit the place you have helped to create. 

Your donation will help Heal to find, secure and pay for the land we need

Your donation to the Heal Appeal will be 'unrestricted funds', which means we can use the money we raise from this Crowdfunder in ways which have the greatest impact on our work to find, secure and pay for our first site. 

To climb back up the rankings and get into the premier league of countries rich in wildlife, lots more people need to know about rewilding, how brilliant it is and how supporting Heal will make a difference. To do this, we'll use a mesmerising short film featuring a young and brilliant performance poet and dancer. We will create the world's first virtual rewilding world. We'll bring on board influencers to spread the word. We already have the endorsement of celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and we have identified dozens more names of well-known people interested in nature and climate change. And we'll run a powerful and far-reaching communications campaign with a top agency. 

If we raise more than our target, we'll be able to begin creating a long-term educational programme based on the virtual rewilding world. 

If we really bust our target, we will put the money into our land fund, to help pay for the foundation site.

Our first site will be close to London, Swindon or Bristol

We'd love to be able to tell you now exactly where our first site will be, but it depends on finding the right landholding. We can tell you that we want to be within two hours of large cities like London, Swindon or Bristol. We're scouring Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent to find a brilliant place. Let us know if you hear of anything!

Heal is run by business people who love nature, helped by lots of experts and advisors

The people behind Heal - the Trustees - love nature so much that they give their time for nothing to make Heal's vision real. Heal is run day-to-day by me, Jan Stannard, with our first member of staff, Junior Director Hannah Needham. This founding team together has nearly 300 years of experience in life, business and nature. Our Founding Patron is Ted Green, named in the first sentence of Isabella Tree's seminal book, 'Wilding'. We're advised by scores of experts, from ecologists, ecosystem carbon and pond specialists to entomologists, botanists and birders. 

We want England to be rich in wildlife for the next generation

Heal's legacy will be a better natural world for the generations that come after us. We want them to be surrounded by countryside which is teeming with life, not empty. We have a huge following amongst young people who care deeply about the impact that we've had as a species upon the rest of nature and the climate. To make sure that Heal makes decisions which resonate with the hopes and views of the young, Heal has its own young persons' network for those aged 30 and under, called Heal Future. Leading Heal Future is a panel of ten young people, our 'Future Advisors' who scrutinise Heal's plans and policies as they are developed, create and refine marketing and promotional materials, contribute to awareness campaigns, and suggest new ideas on how Heal can help people of all ages and backgrounds to reconnect with nature. 

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We have over two hundred volunteers already - our Heal Helpers

Our lean core team is helped every day of the week (and weekends) by over 200 volunteers - our Heal Helpers - working on desk-based tasks, with backgrounds including science, conservation, ecology, tech, industry, the civil service, marketing, social media, law, publishing, psychology, media, farming, finance, PR, project management and - good-hearted, kind people, all doing something to help. Here are just a few of them:

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We've had strong support so far

We launched a week into the first lockdown and all our fundraising has been done in one of the most difficult periods in history for charities. We are humbled by the huge amount of support we've had so far and proud of our achievements. A charity fundraising expert said that the level of donations we've had is amongst the best they've ever seen for a new charity coming from a standing start. But we need more funds. 

People love Heal

Since our launch in 2020, we've received thousands of messages of support. We have put some of them on our Love Heal page. Here's are just a few examples: 

"Hurrah! You are doing exactly what I have been wishing somebody could do."

"The world needs more wild places. The sooner Heal can reach its target of buy its first piece of land, the better."

"Found you through a Guardian article and I think what you’re doing is AMAZING!"

"I came across Heal just yesterday and I have to say your mission, ethos and plans for the future have been on my mind ever since. What Heal is aiming to achieve has been a breath of fresh air! (without trying to sound to corny)."

"Amazing cause. I truly believe in rewilding and giving us the opportunity to help and be a part of it is fantastic."

"Light in the darkness - thank you for making a vision a reality."

A donation of £1 made us happy

We've had a donation of £1. Why did that make us happy? When we set up Heal, we wanted anyone - no matter how little they had to give - to be able to contribute to a rewilding project. And someone gave us a small donation and said this: 

"I can't tell you how excited and relieved I feel [about Heal launching]. Having a very low income myself, I felt helpless, that there was no chance of making a difference."

Companies are supporting us

We already have support from more than a dozen companies and we are increasingly being approached about partnerships. Everyone we work with is special to us, so we’re serious about making sure we’re right for each corporate supporter. For instance, our Trustees help make sure there is alignment of values and we also consult our Heal Future Panel. We evaluate whether a company has a meaningful commitment to environmental and sustainability goals, can already demonstrate change, or are on a journey of change. 

Company support currently includes:

  • Straightforward donations 
  • Online retailers offering customers a choice of charity for a donation, including Heal
  • Merchandise with profits to Heal (eg sustainable clothing with special designs)
  • Employee volunteering
  • Sponsorships
  • Patient loans - provision of soft, long-term lending at very low interest rates to accelerate our site acquisition
  • Free or reduced cost services or products

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WE NEED TO ACT NOW. WE CAN TURN THIS AROUND BUT WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. PLEASE DONATE WHAT YOU CAN TODAY TO THE HEAL APPEAL AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS. Thank you so much!

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Here is some more information if you have questions about our project. 

How big will your first site be?

We want it to be 500 acres (200 hectares) or more, with buildings to convert to visitor facilities and accommodation. At this scale, we can bring small numbers of cattle, ponies and pigs onto the land all year round, to act as 'ecosystem engineers'. This is the blueprint that we’ll use for all future sites - we’re aiming to create one in every English county by 2050.

How will your site be run?

Our site will be open to everyone and free to enter.

We will create a site which is welcoming to people from all backgrounds and abilities. This site will be free to enter - all visitors will have the option to donate what they can. We are taking steps to ensure that our sites are accessible and welcoming for everyone, through consultation with experts and community groups. We are determined to ensure that we create an inclusive culture and provide facilities to satisfy a wide range of needs. It is essential to us that everyone feels safe and at home on our sites, and that our work helps to address the barriers that many people face in the countryside, particularly people from BAME backgrounds and people with physical disabilities. 

We will open around half of the site to general public access for those aged 14+ because of our use of large, free-roaming animals. We will also have a rewilding area dedicated to families and younger children. We will keep the rest of the land closed for nature, to give it the seclusion it needs to thrive, with access only by our staff, volunteers, scientists, and occasional supervised access for major donors and supporters.

We will have visitor facilities, a local membership scheme, a cafe or refreshment pop ups and sustainable local produce and products on sale. 

Doesn't rewilding mean wolves?

In some places in the world, it does, but they aren't in Heal's plans. Beavers might be, if the local community wants them back and the ecology is right for them. Other rewilding sites are helping many wonderful species become re-established, like bison, cranes, white storks and corncrakes. Our site will be unique and we'll be led by the science on things like reintroductions.

What else will people be able to do on your site?

As well as being able to spend time in nature, this Heal site will be a place of learning. We will use the buildings for courses and workshops in our three areas of work: nature recovery, climate change action and wellbeing. We want people to come and be inspired to help nature and the climate and go home vowing to live more sustainably and make more space for wildlife where they live. Many of Heal's Trustees, donors and supporters are either vegetarian or vegan, for planetary health, personal health or animal welfare reasons, and though we will have 'kept wild' large animals - cattle, ponies and pigs along with wild deer - we have no plans to kill our livestock for meat sales. We are developing herd management approaches to make this possible.  

Will your site be sustainable long term?

We have done months of detailed business modelling with input from rural business development and ecotourism experts, and identified over a dozen different revenue streams for the site. We're using a blend of established and novel approaches. The spread of income means that no single stream is greater than ten per cent which ameliorates risk.

What about your farming neighbours and local communities? 

We want to develop good relationships with our neighbours. Ideally, our site will be part of a Nature Recovery Network, joined-up landholdings where wildlife can move freely through spaces with safe and varied habitats. Otherwise, we will be a hub for wildlife and we will work with surrounding landowners to create wildlife corridors - land and water - enabling safe transit to other habitats. 

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Will you create jobs?

Yes, we will create 5-6 new roles at the site and these could bring much-needed employment, especially for younger people.

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If you want to speak to us before you give, please call 020 3355 2149 or email us at [email protected] 

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£50 or more

9 of 1000 claimed

Your name on a 'Heal 3x3' patch of land

Your name on a 'Heal 3x3' patch of land in our foundation site plus 10 years of upkeep, and a shout-out to you as a sponsor on our 'Wall of Love' - our list of foundation site supporters. Your square will be allocated a unique what3words address and when we're open, you'll be able to visit this amazing new space for nature you have helped to create.

£30 or more

Special edition rewilding illustration + Heal mug

A special edition of Heal's beautiful 'Heal 3x3 imagined' artwork by rewilding illustrator Jeroen Helmer, signed by the artist and featuring over 30 species which could be seen in the future on our site.

£50 or more

2 of 250 claimed

Place on a Heal half-day workshop

A place on any of Heal's future half-day workshops on our foundation site, on subjects from urban rewilding and sustainable living to being vegan and mindfulness. Come together with like-minded people for a day of learning, personal growth and discussion. Includes teas/coffees and scrumptious cake!

£500 or more

1 of 10 claimed

A day's access to the Heal site's private area

This reward gives you and three of your family or friends unique guided access to the private side of Heal's foundation site for the day. This will be the part of our site which will remain closed to the general public, to give the wildlife the seclusion it needs. This special reward is therefore limited to only ten individual groups of four people.

£5,000 or more

0 of 5 claimed

An hour with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Celebrity chef and campaign supporter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is offering five one-to-one conversations for this pledge, either via Zoom or in person over a cup of tea at River Cottage HQ. Hugh will talk about his approach to food, farming and sustainable living, and his writing, campaigning and broadcasting over the past 30 years. You will have his undivided attention and are welcome to discuss your own projects and ideas.

£25,000 or more

0 of 4 claimed

Be a corporate sponsor of the Heal foundation site

Heal's foundation site in the south of England will be its flagship and a small number of companies have the opportunity of becoming foundation site sponsors. The sponsorship package will include a large patch of land on the site's private side, exclusive access to the land once a year (up to 25 people), the company name featured prominently on the supporters' board in the visitor area and an invitation for up to six people to a launch party.

Let's make 'Help us create a big new rewilding site in England' happen

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