Rewilding is a progressive approach to conservation. It’s about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife’s natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.
Wildlife is already making a spectacular comeback across Europe including in the Iberian Peninsula, offering us an opportunity to rewild our landscapes and find more sustainable ways to coexist with nature. Dismissing the idea of fixed habitats, rewilding initiatives work to rebuild important ecological functions and trophic chains, and to establish greater ecological connectivity between natural areas.
The principles of rewilding
Rewilding practitioners from across Europe have co-formulated a set of principles that characterise and guide rewilding in a European context. All equally important, these are as follows.
Providing hope and purpose
Rewilding generates visions of a better future for people and nature that inspire and empower. The rewilding narrative not only tells the story of a richer, more vital tomorrow, but also encourages practical action and collaboration today.
Offering natural solutions
By providing and enhancing nature-based solutions, rewilding can help to mitigate environmental, social, economic and climatological challenges.
Rewilding means acting in ways that are innovative, opportunistic and entrepreneurial, with the confidence to learn from failure.
By enhancing wild nature and its myriad benefits at all scales, rewilding complements more established methods of nature conservation.
Letting nature lead
Rewilding lets restored natural processes shape our landscapes and seascapes in a dynamic way. This will see us intervene less in nature going forwards.
Working at nature’s scale
Rewilding means working at scale to rebuild wildlife diversity and abundance and giving natural processes the opportunity to enhance ecosystem resilience.
People are key
Rewilding embraces the role of people – and their cultural and economic connections to the land – working within wider, naturally vibrant ecosystems.
Building nature-based economies
By enhancing wildlife and ecosystems, rewilding provides new economic opportunities through the provision of nature-based livelihoods and income.
Acting in context
Approaching rewilding with a long-term knowledge of the environmental and cultural history of a place. Taking account of the cultural, political and physical realities of landscapes and seascapes in rewilding efforts.
Building coalitions and providing support based on respect, trust and shared values. Connecting people of all backgrounds to co-create innovative ways of rewilding and deliver the best outcomes for communities and wild nature.
Exchanging knowledge and expertise to continually refine rewilding best practice and achieve the best possible rewilding results.
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: why we need rewilding
On June 5, UN launched its Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UN Decade). Its aim is to “prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean”, thereby combatting climate change, preventing mass extinction and reducing poverty. As a holistic approach which addresses the needs of both wild nature and people, rewilding is the best way to realise this aim.
Rewilding at scale can simultaneously help to mitigate the scale and impact of global warming, safeguard and enhance biodiversity, and create new sources of sustainable, long-term revenue for businesses and communities. Over the next 10 years, we have a unique and compelling opportunity to upgrade nature for the first time in human history. The only way to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for Europe and the planet is to restore large areas through rewilding, reducing human control and letting nature take care of itself.
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