A Short History of LettsSafari
A new venture which is tackling the biodiversity crisis head on
LettsSafari has an origin story [See video above]. It started in 2006 when we created a small, wild space outside New York and accidentally discovered rewilding. We built an ecosystem of wild grasses, wildflower, shrub, scrub and trees on just a few acres. Before we knew it the wildlife started arriving. First insects, bugs and snakes, then birds and mammals found a welcoming spot. What were acres deadened by being over-fertilized, chemically treated lawn/wasteland, turned into a wildlife haven in just a couple of years.
We decided to do it again in a larger space. In 2014 we bought a run down 100 acre park and garden on the outskirts of Exeter, in southwest England. It was an ecological mess. Parts of the gardens maintained so aggressively that other then a few rose bushes nothing else survived there, other areas were overgrazed by livestock and everywhere the liberal use of chemicals and fertilizers had created toxic acres devoid of life. Today it hosts the original LettsSafari park.
Since then we have built a number of other LettsSafari parks, introduced Safari gardens and launched the LettsSafari Network of parks.
It has taken 17 years for us to crack smaller-scale rewilding and lead the way on nature rich ‘safari’ parks and gardens for the masses. And yet LettsSafari is just 18 months old and at the beginning of its journey.
In the early 2000’s, we learnt, by accident, that if you created a small rewilded space it would remove carbon, restore wild flowers and animals - and the people who visited this original space were genuinely intrigued and started to do some of it on the edges of their gardens. The ripple effect was quite noticeable.
So, gradually we developed the idea for LettsSafari. A scalable mechanism to do what we had started to do back in 2006: Create a rewilded space, invite people to visit and watch the ripple effect take place. After all, it will be the power of the masses more than the action of governments or farmers that will get this done. And by ‘this’ we mean solving the biodiversity crisis. Restoring a wilder nature, one small space at a time.
First we needed to create a few more ‘safari’ parks and gardens to prove that it really could be done in multiple places, spaces and sizes. We developed small parks, larger parks, rewilded gardens, verges and more. We read and researched and met with leading experts in climate, conservation, gardening and wildlife.
Everyone seemed to be excited by what we were trying to do; bringing smaller-scale rewilding and wildlife gardening to the public.
The more we built these parks and gardens and the more we developed our thinking and expertise, the more we understood how LettsSafari should work. Its ingredients would bring together a virtual layer (so lots of people could visit our parks online), physical rewilding parks and an educational model based on what the wider LettsGroup calls Media-as-a-Service. All of this, we believed, would allow us to help spread LettsSafari style parks and gardens across the UK and beyond.
So, in the summer of 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, we set about launching LettsSafari in stealth mode. We wanted to gather a few dozen subscribers to our subscription model to see if we could persuade eco-supporters to visit our parks online, learn about smaller-scale rewilding and to see if they would close the circle by setting up their own mini LettsSafari’s in their gardens, schools, workplaces and community. We thought we would run in stealth mode for about 18 months.
You surprised us. Today we have nearly 600 subscribers to LettsSafari. We have dozens of examples of our members starting their own smaller-scale rewilding projects and we have grown the LettsSafari Network of Parks to six. You seem to like our eco-services online subscription approach where your paid membership specifically pays for us to plant trees, release wild animals and create new LettsSafari parks. In turn, your support really does make a difference.
In this short time we have planted hundreds of 5 year old trees, released and supported dozens of wild animals and created the all new Sunrise Park, while welcoming new parks to our network.
We have spent zero on marketing and yet our approach, our spaces and our supporters keep growing. And with LettsGroup’s support we keep expanding. We have recently invented a thing called a Wildlife Biodome that can provide the benefits of a small living hedgerow with a man-made structure that can sit in the corner of your garden. We have a few out there being tested in our parks and gardens. So far so good.
The LettsSafari team are busy moving the ball forwards and the plan gradually gets more exciting. There is a long way to go but the short history of LettsSafari runs deep. Soon we will be taking LettsSafari to a wider audience in the hope that by connecting small rewilding parks and gardens at scale we can make a real dent in the biodiversity crisis and genuinely help us get to where we need to - with 30% of land properly restored to nature and its wildlife. Creating the world's largest, most natural carbon store and a respite for biodiversity in the process. The LettsSafari way!
Thank you for walking this journey with us. By helping us to spread the word you can make a real difference.
Get more LettsSafari updates and wildlife photos from our twitter. And read all the latest posts at the LettsSafari + website.
A Short History of LettsSafari