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Nar Valley Wilderness Belt
Approx. 1970 acres
10 km along the River Nar 
Creating a Woodland Pasture Mosaic
to increase biodiversity 

Rewilding Westacre

What is the plan and why are we doing it?

The plan is simple, to ring fence as much of the land south of the Gayton – Castle Acre road as possible and in cooperation with neighbouring farmers and landowners to create a corridor of uncontrolled nature.

We need to do this for the insects, animals, and biomass which have been lost. We have a responsibility to improve our environment, and to minimize the degradation of our natural habitat and try to turn back the clock. 

We must act now and with maximum effect in order to slow the risks of climate change.

The major contributing factor to the decline of species is habitat loss. We do not have rainforest in the UK that needs reinstating but we do have farmland that needs to be released from our control.

The initial composition of the wilding area is  1/3 ex arable - 1/3 ex pasture - 1/3 ex woodland. The major initial works include -reintroduction of missing plant species, opening up of dense close canopy woodland, opening up and reinstatement of approx 250 ponds, rewilding of stretches of the River Nar and creation of additional wetland areas in Walton Wood.

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Creating a robust and expanding natural ecosystem

One that will spill over into the wider landscape.

"At the moment the country side looks like a collection of large fields of well managed mono crop encasing woodlands, hedges, and other areas of managed countryside. 


I would like to invert that vision so that it is the arable fields that are isolated (and highly productive in their isolation) with woodlands, hedges, and margins that are connected, allowing species to migrate between habitats, and source food and shelter wherever it may be at any specific point in the year."

- Alec Birkbeck from Westacre Estate

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Introducing Large Herbivores 

White Park Cattle - Exmoor Ponies - Iron Age Pigs

The select introduction of semi wild livestock will help perform different duties in habitat management.


The correct mix is important and will be closely managed with very low stocking densities (approx 0.25 livestock units per hectare over the whole area). 

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Creating a Balance

Balancing the high productivity of crops, with high productivity in biodiversity and biomass.

"I am very lucky to live at West Acre. In its current state it is alive with beauty and wildlife, with varied woodlands, scrubland areas, water-meadows, rare habitats preserved under SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) status, historic monuments, unmanaged and free access commons, idyllic villages and farmland that is varied and considerate, alongside a rich tapestry of people and businesses that are engaged in the area.  So why would we need to go any further, is the biggest question, what’s the point when its already such a rich environment?

The answer to why more, is because we can do more, and we must do more to stem the decline of species.


I would like to be able to balance high productivity of crops, with high productivity in biodiversity and biomass, and see the creation of the Nar Valley wilderness belt as part of this balance, that will, along with an intensive attitude to conventional environmental stewardship, allow the wildlife and environment at Westacre to strengthen, despite holding within its grasp intensive arable and livestock operations."

- Alec Birkbeck from Westacre Estate

Rewilding Team

Fraser Bradbury- Ecologist and Head Forester

Chris Carter - Ranger 

Alec Birkbeck

Special Advisers:

John Ebbage

Emily Swan


Dennis Pedersen

We have joined the 'Rewilding Britain' network. You can read about our project and the other work they do here.

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