The return of Europe’s largest beasts


I stumble past long grass, whipping mosquitoes away from my legs, as I enter a clearing. “The deer have been eating all the young trees here, so they haven’t managed to grow,” my guide tells me, gesturing to the shrubbery in front of us. We carry on walking and the trees suddenly become taller and denser.

“It looks like they don’t graze here as much,” he says. “Probably because there’s dead wood on the ground. It makes it harder for them to get away if there are wolves in the area.”

“Is that a good thing?” I ask.

“It’s neither good nor bad,” he replies. “It’s just what nature intends.”

My guide is Stefan Schwill, one of Germany’s leading proponents of rewilding. This method of conservation aims to let large areas of land return to wilderness – in other words, a state of zero human intervention.

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