Ewhurst Park shooting estate turned into 'edible mosaic'




  • In Science
  • 2022-09-25 13:16:05Z
  • By BBC
 

A rewilding project is under way to restore the ecosystem of a former shooting estate.

Ewhurst Park, near Basingstoke in Hampshire, was bought by Malaysian-born model, actress, and entrepreneur Mandy Lieu two years ago.

She said the project would make the land an "edible mosaic" of habitats to provide food for humans and wildlife alike.

The 925-acre site once belonged to the Duke of Wellington.

Rewilding is where ecosystems are restored and sometimes species reintroduced, with the idea that in the end they will manage themselves.

Ms Lieu said she was inspired to buy the land during lockdown when "we all had this massive craving to be reconnected with nature".

Fields of spring barley, a good cover crop for the gamebirds previously hunted on the estate, have been replaced with mixed plant cover crops such as chicory and clover to improve the soil.

The grassland is being restored and grazed on by organic longhorn and belted Galloway cattle, Iron Age boars, and Tamworth pig sows.

Meanwhile drains are being blocked up to restore areas that were once wetland.

Other plans include planting trees and adding a beaver enclosure.

The land will be foraged for mint, blackberries, raspberries, basil, hazelnuts, mushrooms, and Jerusalem artichokes, with food expected to be used in Ms Lieu's west London restaurant.

She said: "We are a land and nature restoration project.

"We're trying to create an edible mosaic habitat that produces food for humans and flora and fauna and to try to find that balance of co-existence between men and nature."

She added: "It's important for us to learn to live lightly and productively on the land."

She said while she was "jumping in at the deep end", neighbours and experts on nature and ecosystems had assisted her with the project.

Ms Lieu described British wildlife as very different to that in Malaysia, with the park also hosting red kites, goshawks, nesting herons, and kingfishers.

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