5,454 research outputs found

    Science for a wilder Anthropocene: synthesis and future directions for trophic rewilding research

    Get PDF
    Trophic rewilding is an ecological restoration strategy that uses species introductions to restore top-down trophic interactions and associated trophic cascades to promote self-regulating biodiverse ecosystems. Given the importance of large animals in trophic cascades and their widespread losses and resulting trophic downgrading, it often focuses on restoring functional megafaunas. Trophic rewilding is increasingly being implemented for conservation, but remains controversial. Here, we provide a synthesis of its current scientific basis, highlighting trophic cascades as the key conceptual framework, discussing the main lessons learned from ongoing rewilding projects, systematically reviewing the current literature, and highlighting unintentional rewilding and spontaneous wildlife comebacks as underused sources of information. Together, these lines of evidence show that trophic cascades may be restored via species reintroductions and ecological replacements. It is clear, however, that megafauna effects may be affected by poorly understood trophic complexity effects and interactions with landscape settings, human activities, and other factors. Unfortunately, empirical research on trophic rewilding is still rare, fragmented, and geographically biased, with the literature dominated by essays and opinion pieces. We highlight the need for applied programs to include hypothesis testing and science-based monitoring, and outline priorities for future research, notably assessing the role of trophic complexity, interplay with landscape settings, land use, and climate change, as well as developing the global scope for rewilding and tools to optimize benefits and reduce human–wildlife conflicts. Finally, we recommend developing a decision framework for species selection, building on functional and phylogenetic information and with attention to the potential contribution from synthetic biology

    Future of Thailand's captive elephants: commentary on Baker & Winkler on elephant rewilding

    Get PDF
    Removal from natural habitat and commodification as private property compromise elephants’ broader societal value. Although we support Baker & Winkler’s (2020) plea for a new community-based rewilding conservation model focused on mahout culture, we recommend an expanded co-management approach to complement and enhance the regional elephant conservation strategy with additional local community stakeholders and the potential to extend across international borders into suitable elephant habitat. Holistic co-management approaches improve human wellbeing and social cohesion, as well as elephant wellbeing, thereby better securing long-term survival of Asian elephants, environmental justice, and overall sustainability

    What next? Rewilding as a radical future for the British countryside

    Get PDF
    Rewilding is an optimistic environmental agenda to reverse the loss of biodiversity and reconnect society with nature. This chapter explores Britain’s ecological history, back to the Last Interglacial before the arrival of modern humans, when the climate was similar to today, to analyse how conservationists can learn from the past to rewild the ecosystems of the present and prepare for an uncertain future. Because there is no single point in history that should or could be recreated, rewilding focuses on re-establishing naturally dynamic ecological processes that, through an appropriate sequence of species reintroductions, attempts to move the ecosystem towards a more appropriately biodiverse and functional state. A state that is self-sustaining in the present climate, and that projected for the near future. Specifically, this chapter explores a rewilding solution to conservation challenges associated with over-grazing, limited germination niche availability, and river dynamics: the reintroduction of wolves, wild boar, and beaver respectively. This sequence of reintroductions is suggested to be complimentary, each altering ecosystem dynamics to facilitate the return of the next. Evidence indicates wolves will reduce deer abundance and re-distribute browsing intensity promoting tree regeneration, particularly in riparian areas, increasing woodland availability to the more habitat-dependent wild boar and beaver. An important message behind rewilding is that a rich biodiversity with all guilds well represented, including the ones that polarize public opinion, such as large predators, are important components of ecosystem service rich and self-sustaining ecosystems, particularly in core areas

    The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be by J.B. MacKinnon

    Get PDF
    Review of The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be by J.B. MacKinnon

    Framing the relationship between people and nature in the context of European conservation

    Get PDF
    A key controversy in conservation is the framing of the relationship between people and nature. The extent to which the realms of nature and human culture are viewed as separate (dualistic view) or integrated is often discussed in the social sciences. To explore how this relationship is represented in the practice of conservation in Europe, we considered examples of cultural landscapes, wildlife (red deer, reindeer, horses), and protected area management. We found little support, for a dualistic worldview, where people and nature are regarded as separate in the traditional practice of conservation in Europe. The borders between nature and culture, wild and domestic, public land and private land, and between protected areas and the wider landscape were blurred and dynamic. The institutionalized (in practice and legislation) view is of an interactive mutualistic system in which humans and nature share the whole landscape. However, more dualistic ideals, such as wilderness and rewilding that are challenging established practices are expanding. In the context of modern day Europe, wilderness conservation and rewilding are not valid for the whole landscape, although it is possible to integrate some areas of low-intervention management into a wider matrix. A precondition for success is to recognize and plan for a plurality of values concerning the most valid approaches to conservation and to plan for this plurality at the landscape scale

    Current and future opportunities for satellite remote sensing to inform rewilding

    Get PDF
    Rewilding has been suggested as an effective strategy for addressing environmental challenges such as the intertwined biodiversity and climate change crises, but there is little information to guide the monitoring of rewilding projects. Since rewilding focuses on enhancing ecosystem functionality, with no defined endpoint, monitoring strategies used in restoration are often inappropriate, as they typically focus on assessing species composition, or the ecological transition of an ecosystem towards a defined desired state. We here discuss how satellite remote sensing can provide an opportunity to address existing knowledge and data gaps in rewilding science. We first discuss how satellite remote sensing is currently being used to inform rewilding initiatives and highlight current barriers to the adoption of this type of technology by practitioners and scientists involved with rewilding. We then identify opportunities for satellite remote sensing to help address current knowledge gaps in rewilding, including gaining a better understanding of the role of animals in ecosystem functioning; improving the monitoring of landscape-scale connectivity; and assessing the impacts of rewilding on the conservation status of rewilded sites. Though significant barriers remain to the widespread use of satellite remote sensing to monitor rewilding projects, we argue that decisions on monitoring approaches and priorities need to be part of implementation plans from the start, involving both remote sensing experts and ecologists. Making use of the full potential of satellite remote sensing for rewilding ultimately requires integrating species and ecosystem perspectives at the monitoring, knowledge-producing and decision-making levels. Such an integration will require a change in know-how, necessitating increased inter-disciplinary interactions and collaborations, as well as conceptual shifts in communities and organizations traditionally involved in biodiversity conservation

    Narrating Rewilding: Shifting Images of Wilderness in American Literature

    Get PDF
    Narrating Rewilding analyzes interactions between imaginative writings and environmental histories to ask how novels and creative nonfiction contribute to conversations of wilderness rewilding. I identify aspects of rewilding in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, and Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge within a context of William Cronon’s and James Feldman’s works of environmental history, and I argue that the selected imaginative works offer alternative ramifications of rewilding by questioning Cronon’s and Feldman’s anthropocentric basis. While Cronon and Feldman argue that a rewilding wilderness expresses interconnections between human history and expressions of nature, and that a return of wild aspects benefits human understanding and interaction within wilderness areas, in these imaginative writings, wildernesses are sites that flatten hierarchies between natural elements and human aspects, places where characters languish. They are lands deeply layered with both natural and cultural histories, but aspects of the past often remain beyond reach. Rewilding in these wildernesses equates with damage and loss. Taken together, I argue that these narratives of wilderness rewilding augment one another, creating a dialog where Cronon’s and Feldman’s discourses of environmental recovery and of human gain inform corresponding imaginative writings but are also challenged by models of lament and loss. This restructured approach to wilderness rewilding offers a widened range of potential responses to an ever-changing, ever-rewilding wilderness

    Who decides? The governance of rewilding in Scotland ‘between the cracks’:Community participation, public engagement, and partnerships

    Get PDF
    Rewilding is a conservation approach which seeks to restore natural processes and ecosystem functionality. However, it also has a strong social dimension, characterised by a recently increasing emphasis on the place of people in rewilding. The role of local communities and the need for public engagement have become a specific concern for many contemporary rewilding efforts. Research on the role of participation in rewilding is however lacking, with rewilding governance in general being under-explored. Our examination of understandings and practices of rewilding governance, through semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in Scotland, illustrated a range of conceptualisations and approaches. It became apparent that governance and participatory practices were very variable and selective, highlighting an interaction between land ownership and degrees of empowerment which underpinned rewilding activity and decision-making. Approaches ranged from relatively ubiquitous advocacy for public engagement with a pre-prescribed rewilding agenda, through the circumscribed participation of defined communities (mainly of interest) in specific activities, to much more involved and empowering but self-selecting partnerships (with other landowners) to achieve impact at scale. Key challenges to more participatory approaches in rewilding identified included: i) a strong conservation imperative; ii) concentrated ownership, and power and control over land; and iii) emerging ideas about the public interest. These influenced perceptions about the value, and the practice of greater representation in rewilding decisions, ultimately bounding and limiting the participation of communities and the public

    The Impacts of a Rewilding Project on Pollinator Abundance and Diversity at a Local Scale

    Get PDF
    The recent concerns regarding biodiversity loss have resulted in the emergence of new conservation management strategies, one of which is rewilding. Rewilding aims to restore ecosystem functionality with minimum human input. While rewilding does have potential to benefit both habitats and species, like most traditional conservation methods, it has many limitations. However, rewilding does present a unique opportunity to reshape abandoned landscapes and investigate how this impacts organisms and the interactions they have with their environment. A group of organisms not typically associated with rewilding are pollinators. The current decline in pollinator populations is strongly linked to habitat loss and fragmentation, and rewilding has the potential to improve pollinator abundance and diversity. This study aimed to assess the impacts a rewilding project has on pollinator populations at a local scale. Pan traps were set up in fields at Knepp Rewilding Estate and all pollinators captured were identified to species level. Transect walks were also conducted in individual fields to gather more information on pollinator numbers and diversity, and to observe pollinator behaviour. The results of this study suggest that year since agricultural abandonment has no significant effect on pollinators. However, the vegetation structure within fields does impact the pollinator groups recorded in this study. Overall, pollinators preferred areas of greater vegetation height deviation, and this trend was amplified when individual groups were analysed separately. Bumblebees and hoverflies preferred taller vegetation, whereas butterflies and moths were more frequently observed in open habitat. A major factor contributing to the distribution of pollinators was limited forage choice, although other factors not measured could also play a role. The results of this study, though broad, demonstrate the need for rewilding projects to maintain an element of habitat heterogeneity. Further research into this topic is necessary to provide a more extensive insight into how pollinators utilise different resources and how this influences their distribution. However, this study has shown that pollinators can benefit from rewilding, which has implications for both rewilding projects and future pollinator conservation

    Decision-Making for Rewilding: An Adaptive Governance Framework for Social-Ecological Complexity

    Get PDF
    Rewilding can be defined as the reorganisation or regeneration of wildness in an ecologically degraded landscape with minimal ongoing intervention. While proposals for rewilding are increasingly common, they are frequently controversial and divisive amongst stakeholders. If implemented, rewilding initiatives may alter the social-ecological systems within which they are situated and thus generate sudden and unforeseen outcomes. So far, however, much of the discourse on the planning and implementation of rewilding has focused on identifying and mitigating ecological risks. There has been little consideration of how rewilding could alter the human components of the social-ecological systems concerned, nor governance arrangements that can manage these dynamics. This paper addresses this gap by proposing a generic adaptive governance framework tailored to the characteristics of rewilding, based on principles of managing complex social-ecological systems. We integrate two complementary natural resource governance approaches that lend themselves to the contentious and unpredictable characteristics of rewilding. First, adaptive co-management builds stakeholder adaptive capacity through iterative knowledge generation, collaboration and power-sharing, and cross-scale learning networks. Second, social licence to operate establishes trust and transparency between project proponents and communities through new public-private partnerships. The proposed framework includes structural and process elements which incorporate a boundary organisation, a decision-into-practise social learning exercise for planning and design, and participatory evaluation. The latter assesses rewilding outcomes and pre-conditions for the continuation of adaptive governance and conservation conflict resolution
    corecore