Northumberland At The Heart Of Nature's Recovery

A roadshow exhibition that dares to propose a wilder Britain and bring Lynx back into our ecosystem
Evie Whitaker
May 7, 2024

Once roamed freely in our woodlands, the majestic Lynx vanished from our landscape around 1,500 years ago. Echoes of their presence lingered in the verses of cultural poems and stories up until mediaeval times, but they have long been extinct to Britain. 

In efforts to encourage and open up conversation around a wilder Britain in general, The Missing Lynx Project - an exhibition run by Northumberland Wildlife Trust and The Lifescape Project - uses interactive displays to bring Lynx to life, explore changes in our wilds and convey the impact of restoring missing wildlife for nature's recovery.

This roadshow exhibition is travelling throughout Northumberland and Southern Scotland - areas with the highest potential to home not only Lynx, but various other species as part of larger efforts to diversify and save Britain’s dwindling wildlife. 

Dr Deborah Brady, The Lifescape Project’s Lead Ecologist discussed the objectives with Mag North: “We want to see steps that are moving towards recreating the ecosystems that we should have in this country. But with a species that is controversial, like Lynx, it could only be done with people's support. So this is a big challenge - a slow and quite lengthy process of opening up the conversation, providing a space where people can come and learn about Lynx and have time to talk through and express their thoughts about it.

“There are lots of questions that people have. ‘Is it safe for me? Can I go walking in the woods? What about my dog? What about my cat if I live nearby?’ For farmers, there's a real risk of predation as Lynx can predate on sheep, so we need to look at how big that risk is. We’re working really closely with projects across Europe where people and other species are already successfully co-existing alongside Lynx and using this to inform a lot of the roadshow materials and answer some of these questions.”

The Missing Lynx roadshow exhibition in Northumberland
The Exhibition In Situ

Deborah expands on the bigger picture for this project and why it’s about more than just Lynx:  “This is importantly part of that broader picture of missing species - we have the ability to bring some back but even if it is ecologically sensible, but should only do so if we have public support to do it. 

“We’re in a nature crisis, where two thirds of the wildlife on earth has disappeared in 50 years, the UK being in the bottom 10 percent of ecosystem intactness. That’s something we need to open up a conversation about and Lynx provide a platform to do this in a really impactful way.”

The Missing Lynx roadshow exhibition in Northumberland
Lynx In Europe

Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive Officer also caught up with Mag North to discuss the importance of a project like this in Northumberland: “We want to open the dialogue around how wild we can be, particularly in a county like Northumberland, where there’s an expectation that things are wilder than most places. Of course, it’s a great example of vast wild and remote areas but yet, nowhere near as biodiverse as it could and should be!

“Lynx is of course the icon for this project, but also a vehicle for opening up wider conversations around restoring our ecosystem. It’s been great to see the engagement particularly from farmers, who we want to work closely with as landscapes change and we dare to be wilder.”

Setting an example for a wilder Britain in the North is something incredibly important to places like Northumberland and the Borders but hinges on the support of locals from every generation in order to enact sustainable, long-term ecosystem restoration.

The exhibition tours until August and welcomes visitors to learn about the Lynx and what it means for our ecosystem, as well as feedback opinions for consideration. Free tickets can be booked at: