rewilding (conservation biology)


  • It is also distinct from other forms of restoration in that, while it places emphasis on recovering geographically specific sets of ecological interactions and functions that
    would have maintained ecosystems prior to human influence,[1] rewilding is open to novel or emerging ecosystems which encompass new species and new interactions.

  • [1] Empowered by a directive from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to produce a document on rewilding that reflected a global scale inventory of underlying
    goals as well as practices, the group sought a ‘unifying definition’, producing the following: ‘Rewilding is the process of rebuilding, following major human disturbance, a natural ecosystem by restoring natural processes and the complete
    or near complete food web at all trophic levels as a self-sustaining and resilient ecosystem with biota that would have been present had the disturbance not occurred.

  • While rewilding initiatives can be controversial, the United Nations has listed rewilding as one of several methods needed to achieve massive scale restoration of natural
    ecosystems, which they say must be accomplished by 2030[2] as part of the 30×30 campaign.

  • [88] Harm to conservation[edit] Some conservationists have expressed concern that rewilding ‘could replace the traditional protection of rare species on small nature reserves’,
    which could potentially lead to an increase in habitat fragmentation and species loss.

  • 3Cs rewilding therefore relied on protecting ‘core’ areas of wild land, linked together by ‘corridors’ allowing passage for ‘carnivores’ to move around the landscape and perform
    their functional role.

  • The group wrote, ‘Commonalities in the concept of rewilding lie in its aims, whereas differences lie in the methods used, which include land protection, connectivity conservation,
    removing human infrastructure, and species reintroduction or taxon replacement.’

  • Advocates of the approach maintain that communities where species evolved in response to Pleistocene megafauna (but now lack large mammals) may be in danger of collapse,[39][40]
    while critics argue that it is unrealistic to assume that communities today are functionally similar to their state 10,000 years ago.

  • However, although it is generally undebated that predators occupy an important role in ecosystems, there is no general agreement about whether wild predators keep herbivore
    populations in check, or whether their influence is of more subtle nature (see Ecology of fear).

  • [28][32] Types of rewilding Passive rewilding[edit] A red deer at the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve, a rewilding site in the Netherlands Passive rewilding (also referred
    to as ecological rewilding)[33] aims to restore natural ecosystem processes via minimal or the total withdrawal of direct human management of the landscape.

  • [89] Rewilding in different locations Both grassroots groups and major international conservation organizations have incorporated rewilding into projects to protect and restore
    large-scale core wilderness areas, corridors (or connectivity) between them, and apex predators, carnivores, or keystone species (species which interact strongly with the environment, such as elephant and beaver).

  • [11] In 1967, The Theory of Island Biogeography by Robert H. MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson established the importance of considering the size and fragmentation of wildlife
    conservation areas, stating that protected areas remained vulnerable to extinctions if small and isolated.

  • The ultimate goal of rewilding is the restoration of functioning native ecosystems containing the full range of species at all trophic levels while reducing human control
    and pressures.

  • Examples include ‘Sanctuary Nature Recovery Programme’ (at Broughton) and ‘nature restoration project’, the preferred term used by the Cambrian Wildwood project, an area aspiring
    to encompass 7,000 acres in Wales.

  • [16][17][18][19] In a 2021 report for the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the United Nations listed rewilding as one of several restoration methods which
    they state should be used for ecosystem restoration of over 1 billion hectares.

  • Barlow noted that a consequence for such native fruits following the loss of their megafaunal seed dispersal partners was range constriction during the Holocene, made increasingly
    severe since the mid-20th century by rapid human-driven climate change.

  • As stated in an article on environmental law, ‘These dam removals provide perhaps the best example of large-scale environmental remediation in the twenty-first century.

  • [9][10] History Rewilding was developed as a method to preserve functional ecosystems and reduce biodiversity loss, incorporating research in island biogeography and the ecological
    role of large carnivores.

  • [112] In 2020, nature writer Melissa Harrison reported a significant increase in attitudes supportive of rewilding among the British public, with plans recently approved for
    the release of European bison, Eurasian elk, and great bustard in England, along with calls to rewild as much as 20% of the land in East Anglia, and even return apex predators such as the Eurasian lynx, brown bear, and grey wolf.

  • [95] The Tijuca National Park is part of heavily fragmented Atlantic Forest, where there is potential to restore many more seed dispersal interactions if seed dispersing mammals
    and birds are reintroduced to forest patches where the tree species diversity remains high.

  • These might include species reintroductions or translocations and/or habitat engineering and the removal of man-made structures.

  • Ward challenge Jørgensen’s criticism and provide existing examples of rewilding programs which ‘have been developed and governed within the understanding that human and non-human
    world are inextricably entangled’.

  • [90] Projects include the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative in North America (also known as Y2Y) and the European Green Belt, built along the former Iron Curtain,
    transboundary projects, including those in southern Africa funded by the Peace Parks Foundation, community-conservation projects, such as the wildlife conservancies of Namibia and Kenya, and projects organized around ecological restoration,
    including Gondwana Link, regrowing native bush in a hotspot of endemism in southwest Australia, and the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, restoring dry tropical forest and rainforest in Costa Rica.

  • [126][127] This happened in line with Vera’s proposal that grazing animals played a significant role in the shaping of European landscapes before the Neolithic – the wood-pasture

  • [14] With the creation of the Society for Conservation Biology in 1985, conservationists began to focus on reducing habitat loss and fragmentation.

  • [80] Criticism Compatibility with economic activity[edit] A view expressed by some national governments and officials within multilateral agencies such as the United Nations,
    is that excessive rewilding, such as large rigorously enforced protected areas where no extraction activities are allowed, can be too restrictive on people’s ability to earn sustainable livelihoods.

  • While small-scale efforts are generally well regarded the increased popularity of rewilding has generated controversy, especially regarding large-scale projects.

  • This has been done in an effort to restore salmon populations specifically but with other species in mind.

  • While the intrinsic value of plants is an ethical foundation for many forms of plant conservation, the Pittsburgh wild-planting of pawpaw also entails an animal conservation

  • The island state of Tasmania has become an important location for rewilding efforts because, as an island, it is easier to remove feral cat populations and manage other invasive

  • [100] Many projects also employ domestic water buffalo as a grazing analogue for the extinct European water buffalo.

  • They also contend that rewilding programs may draw funding away from ‘more scientifically supported conservation projects’.

  • [120] In 2019 a pair of white storks built a nest in an oak tree at Knepp, part of a group imported from Poland, the result of a programme to re-introduce that species to
    England run by the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, which has overseen reintroductions of other extinct bird species to the UK.

  • [55] Because part of Barlow’s activities occurred on public and private lands for which she did not expressly obtain planting permission,[56] this form of rewilding action
    could be referred to as guerrilla rewilding,[57][58] which is an adaptation of the established term guerrilla gardening.

  • [82] David Nogués-Bravo and Carsten Rahbek assert that the benefits of rewilding lack evidence and that such programs may inadvertently lead to ‘de-wilding’, through the extinction
    of local and global species.

  • Once ranging from Alaska to France, Saigas are now extinct in Europe and North America, and a critically endangered species globally.By restoring large herbivores, greenhouse
    gas levels may be lowered.

  • [28] A study in a tropical forest in Guyana found that an increase in mammal species from 5 to 35 increased tree and soil carbon storage by four to five times, compared to
    an increase of 3.5 to four times with an increase of tree species from 10 to 70.

  • [68][69][70][71][72] That pawpaw planting sites chosen by citizens center on damaged riverine forests of old industrial sites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Ypsilanti, Michigan,
    may account for the lack of controversy regarding their actions.

  • [41] Eighteen years later Connie Barlow, in her book The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms (2000),[42] explored the
    specifics of temperate North American plants whose fruits displayed the characteristics of megafauna dispersal syndrome.

  • Within range, or slightly poleward of range, wild plantings are underway for a common subcanopy tree of the eastern United States.

  • To resolve this, von Essen and Allen contend that rewilding needs to shift towards full alignment with mainstream conservation and welcome full sovereignty, or instead take
    full responsibility for the care of animals who have been reintroduced.

  • [22][23][24][25] An example of this would be rewilding pasture land, thereby reducing the number of cows and sheep and increasing the number of trees.

  • When disease mangament practices restored the population, the Serengeti returned to a carbon sink state.

  • [85] Ole Martin Moen argues that rewilding projects should be brought to an end because they unnecessarily increase wild animal suffering and are expensive, and the funds
    could be better spent elsewhere.

  • [46] In 2005 Barlow and Lee Barnes (co-founders of Torreya Guardians[47][48][49][50]) began obtaining seeds from mature horticultural plantings in states northward of Florida
    and Georgia for distribution to volunteer planters whose lands contained forested habitats potentially suitable for this native of Florida.

  • In 2011, the ‘Rewilding Europe’ initiative was established with the aim of rewilding one million hectares of land in ten areas including the western Iberian Peninsula, Velebit,
    the Carpathians and the Danube delta by 2020, mostly abandoned farmland among other identified candidate sites.

  • [12] In 1987, William D. Newmark’s study of extinctions in national parks in North America added weight to the theory.

  • Referring to the span of project types they stated, ‘Rewilding now incorporates a variety of concepts, including Pleistocene megafauna replacement, taxon replacement, species
    reintroductions, retrobreeding, release of captive-bred animals, land abandonment, and spontaneous rewilding.’

  • [20][21] Guiding principles[edit] Since its origin, the term rewilding has been used as a signifier of particular forms of ecological restoration projects (or advocacy thereof)
    that have ranged widely in scope and geographic application.

  • [77] Predators[edit] Predators may be required to ensure that browsing and grazing animals are kept from over-breeding/over-feeding, destroying vegetation complexity,[11]
    as may be concluded from mass-starvations which happened in Oostvaardersplassen.

  • In practice rewilding as effected by private landowners and managers takes many different forms, with emphases placed on varying aspects.

  • [79] By analogy, wildebeest populations in the Serengeti are primarily controlled by food constraints despite the presence of many predators.

  • A key feature of rewilding is its focus on replacing human interventions with natural processes.

  • As in other countries, rewilding in England remains controversial to the extent that some of its more ambitious aims are being ‘domesticated’ both in a proactive attempt to
    make it less controversial and in reactive response to previous controversy.

  • Before reintroductions, the national park did not have large or intermediate -sized seed dispersers, meaning that the increased dispersal of tree seeds following the reintroductions
    can have a large effect on forest regeneration in the national park.

  • [75] Beavers are another important example of ecosystem engineers.

  • The dams also create wetlands for plant, insect, and bird life.

  • The reintroduction and management of the Tasmanian devil in this state, and dingoes on the mainland, is being trialled in an effort to contain introduced predators, as well
    as over-populations of kangaroos.

  • Work at nature’s scale, 5.

  • ‘[84] Erica von Essen and Michael Allen, using Donaldson and Kymlicka’s political animal categories framework, assert that wildness standards imposed on animals are arbitrary
    and inconsistent with the premise that wild animals should be granted sovereignty over the territories that they inhabit and the right to make decisions about their own lives.

  • In North America, a major project aims to restore the prairie grasslands of the Great Plains.

  • Thanks to them, and to a donation of 195,094 ha made by Kristine, in 2018 an area was converted into a National Park, and the jaguar was reintroduced into it, a species that
    had been extinct in the region for seven decades.

  • [98] Other projects around the country include:[97] • Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, NSW – many species • Mongo Valley, NSW – koalas • Bungador Stoney Rises Nature Reserve,
    Victoria – spotted-tail quoll, koala, long-nosed potoroo • Mount Zero-Taravale Sanctuary, Queensland – several species • Dirk Hartog Island National Park, Western Australia – many species • Marna Banggara, SA – also red-tailed phascogales
    and bandicoots • Clarke Island/Lungtalanana, Tasmania – several species • Other locations around Tasmania – Tasmanian devils and (proposed) emus Europe[edit] Urban green space at Trinity College Dublin that has been left to overgrow intentionally.

  • Support people and nature together, 2.

  • [96] Australia[edit] Rewilding is newer in Australia than in Europe and North America, but there are many projects under way across the country as of 2023.


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