CHRIS Packham is calling on the royals to “step up” and commit to rewilding their land.

The TV presenter and naturalist and other representatives of the rewilding campaign group Wild Card met with senior Crown Estate officials to discuss land use.

The royal family is the UK’s biggest landowner, with more than 615,000 acres of land and British foreshore from the Crown Estate alone. While the royals have been vocal advocates against climate change and biodiversity loss, much of the land inherited by today’s royal family is in a poor ecological state.

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For example, The Duchy of Cornwall estate, owned by Prince Charles, has an average tree coverage of just 6% (compared to EU average of 37%). Meanwhile, the vast Balmoral estate in Scotland, owned directly by the Queen, is managed as a sporting estate, suppressing the rare temperate rainforest that would naturally grow there.

During the discussion, Packham and other Wild Card representatives asked if the Crown Estate would commit to fully rewilding up to 50% of their estates and to consider setting a specific target for when this would happen. To the encouragement of Wild Card representatives, The Crown Estate agreed to consider such a proposal and offered to meet again in 2022.

Wild Card also asked if The Crown Estate would consider setting up a panel of rewilding experts to advise them further and whether they would show leadership by meeting with other large landowners for a round table discussion on how they could make rewilding commitments together. The Crown Estate agreed to consider their requests and offered to meet again in the New Year.

Packham said: “I was genuinely encouraged by the openness of the Crown Estates to consider our ambitious and concrete proposals for rewilding up to 50% of their huge estates. After the dismal failure of COP26 we urgently need a big UK landowner to step up and show leadership.”