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The deer is in the details.

December 16th, 2020
Close-up of a Red deer during rutting season in autumn, UK,

For some fun in our seasonal packaging, we think that it would be fun to add a surprise element to all of our seasonal Sjaakolates.

My husband and I love to play board games (hence snowmeeples, rather than snowmen). We also like the idea of incorporating fun surprises in our packaging design so that our Sjaakoholics can play along as they enjoy their treats. For this Christmas, we decided that the red deer would be the perfect inaugural design element. Deer are an integral motif for the holidays so they wouldn’t stand out too conspicuously, they are native to the Netherlands (which is where Sjaak’s founder is from), and they bring to light a great discussion point in the concept of rewilding, which relates to our focus on sustainability.

Rewilding is a form of ecological restoration where humans step back and allow nature to take its course. Rather than humans managing resources, rewilding is about humans creating the right conditions to let nature take care of itself. It’s about removing dykes and dams to free up rivers, reducing active management of wildlife populations, allowing natural forest regeneration, and reintroducing species that have disappeared due to human actions — and then stepping back to let nature manage itself.

There have been several successful rewilding projects, such as the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and many other rewilding programs in Europe. By introducing these top predators that on its own cut down the overpopulated deer, beavers and turtles and other small animals came back. The natural dams built by the beavers create spawning beds for salmon and also collect other invertebrates that salmon feed on. These wetland areas created by the dams allow plants, insects, and birds to flourish and further create trickle down effects by revitalizing an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem. From giant tortoises in the Galapagos to beavers in the United Kingdom, rewilding has been relatively successful but takes time.

However, there have also been controversial projects that have met with less success. The Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Netherlands sought to recreate a grassland ecology by reintroducing large herbivores, but the lack of large predators led to an overpopulation of large grazers, like the red deer, which did not have enough resources to survive the winter and were either shot or starved to death. What was supposed to be nonintervention, didn’t stay so and shows how our decisions and actions have a profound effect on the world around us.

The red deer is a reminder that everything on our planet is interconnected — and we are part of the equation.

Nature is our life-support system. When healthy, it can provide us everything—water, clean air, fertile soils, stable climate, food, medicines and materials that sustain us and/or directly underpin our economies. Looking ahead, it is essential that we rebalance our relationship with nature to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet.

We’ve hidden red deer throughout our holiday products — can you spot one?

So…can you find the red deer tucked away in our Christmas packaging? Tag us when you do! What do you think about rewilding and biodiversity? Should humans take a more active role? Or should we let nature do its thing? Share your thoughts with us.


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