The conference will take place over two days, and we are pleased to say that our speakers, workshop holders and exhibitors have now been assigned to each day.
The final programme outlining time’s and session slots will be released two weeks before the conference start date, so please be aware that whilst the speakers have been fixed into each day, the order in which they will speak is still being planned, and as such the speakers below are listed randomly within each day. Once the final programme is released you will have an opportunity to sign up to each session through Shed.
Download all participant abstracts in PDF form here.
TALK - Rewilding and social entrepreneurship – opportunities for synergy.
It is an exciting time for the Rewilding community and such times call for innovation operating at the cusps of different sectors and exploring new ways of working and working together.
Belinda Bell supports social entrepreneurs and teaches social innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School. She will explain the ideas behind social enterprise – where social and business collide.
These models can potentially cut through some of our challenges and help to enable a future that is sustainable in both planetary and economic terms, and help scale the ambitions of the rewilding movement.
TALK - Reconnecting modern society with wild nature.
Inspired by the first successful rewilding initiatives in Europe and the return of iconic wildlife species happening right at our doorstep, a new conservation movement is emerging in our continent. The notion that nature bounces back if we allow it to, appeals to many young conservationists, and people living in both urban and rural areas. Wild nature can be brought back into the heart of our modern society, acting as an ally in tackling important challenges of our times, ranging from reducing impacts of climate change, improving human health and wellbeing, to becoming a new driver for our rural economies.
This rewilding movement runs like a wave through European nature conservation from the UK to the Balkans and from the Mediterranean to Scandinavian countries. It is hard to believe that this new, opportunity driven conservation movement is only seven years old. Rewilding initiatives are mushrooming all over the continent, each working within their own local contexts, acting as showcases of what can be done at a much larger scale. Pioneering and learning grounds that are starting to give space to wilder nature, support wildlife comeback, establish new nature-based economies and communicate their progress to a fast-growing audience across the continent through strong communication efforts.
Rewilding Europe follows an action philosophy supporting self-nominated, bottom-up and locally driven rewilding initiatives, now focusing on eight large rewilding landscapes across Europe. Within the burgeoning European Rewilding Network, a staggering 67 rewilding initiatives in some 27 countries are already connected, providing and sharing a wealth of practical experience, knowledge and excitement.
In my talk, I will focus on how we can work together to use the historic opportunity that Europe is facing, to embrace wilder nature and wildlife to come back again into our society. I will explain about how we can work towards a transition of our rural landscapes, creating new and positive perspectives, promoting entrepreneurship and providing new identities and pride into eroded communities. I will present a range of examples Rewilding Europe and its partners are working on, and lessons learnt that illustrate the transformational potential of rewilding in our continent.
TALK - How we should include rewilding in the CBD post-2020 targets.
This is a critically important time for nature as the CBD's post-2020 vision is being developed. There has been much discussion of the goals and targets which could replace the Aichi targets, and how to align biodiversity conservation better with the Sustainable Development goals. Less attention has been paid to how to implement this vision in practice.
Here I present the "Conservation Hierarchy", which provides a scaleable approach to implementing a goal of restoring nature, through which individuals, governments and businesses can structure conservation actions and report on their progress. The role of rewilding could be fundamental to global efforts to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss, and using the Conservation Hierarchy approach could make the actual and potential contribution of rewilding towards local, national and global conservation efforts much more explicit.
TALK - Rewilding the World, Rewilding Ourselves
The existing rewilding projects in many countries around the world are pioneering the techniques and methods that will need to be deployed globally as we begin serious efforts to help heal our damaged and depleted planet in the first shared task of all humanity – Restoring the Earth. To create a truly sustainable future for humanity and all other species, this needs to become the major focus of human endeavours in the 21st century, offering a positive vision and practical action to both reverse the current trends and transform human societies.
Using examples from the work of Trees for Life in restoring the Caledonian Forest and rewilding projects in other parts of the world, this talk will provide a positive vision of hope for the future. It will also show how rewilding on a significant scale can only be successful if major and radical changes are made to our individual and collective lifestyles, and will point the way towards how we can all become truly indigenous people on Planet Earth.
TALK - Rewilding the Gondwana Rainforest
For years I roamed Australia, where I was born, looking for something I could fix. As I roamed, country towns ran out of people and wild ocean shores became endless suburbia.
In the end a patch of sub-tropical rainforest found me. It contained everything needed to rebuild itself – with a little help. Flocks of rainforest birds not seen in numbers for many years have now come into their own again. But is it really wild?
TALK - Rewilding, challenging the status quo?
Rewilding is tricky for many farmers as it sets to challenge the very notion of what and how land is used throughout the country. Farmers are the core of rural communities, supporting local livelihoods and providing food for the nation, they are a vital group of constituents whose voices must be accounted for in the rewilding debate moving forward. What will we do about those farmers who are searching for ways of restarting natural processes on their land as a sustainable means of securing productivity and profitability? In a post-Brexit Britain, nature means business for agriculture, in this talk, I will explore whether there is any common ground between the Rewildlings and nature friendly farmers.
TALK - Rewilding a Sussex farm
Our rewilding project at Knepp Estate in West Sussex has demonstrated an astonishing turn-around in less than 20 years. Our 3,500-acres of former intensive arable and dairy farmland on heavy Weald clay are now one of the most significant sites for nature in the UK – a breeding hotspot for turtle doves, nightingales, purple emperor butterflies and countless other endangered species. Rewilding has doubled the organic matter, microbial biomass and carbon in our soils.
Fundamental to this transformation are large, free-roaming herbivores. Their grazing and browsing stimulates vegetation complexity and drives a shifting mosaic of habitats. Trampling, rootling, dung and urine accelerate soil recovery and provide opportunities for colonisation by flora and invertebrates.
From a loss-making farming enterprise, Knepp now derives viable income streams from eco-tourism, sale of organic, ‘wild range’ meat, and rent of post-agricultural farm buildings which employ 200 people, bringing jobs back into the countryside.
But obstacles remain for those farmers and landowners considering doing something similar. The recently enacted ‘interim’ Countryside Stewardship Scheme is so prescriptive it will stop most potential rewilding projects in their tracks, delaying progress for another five years. And our cultural aesthetic of a neat, orderly countryside remains a powerful barrier to change.
TALK - "O'r Mynydd" Searching for a future on rewilding's doorstep
Rewilding is deeply divisive term in farming communities, and one that is causing unease for many farmers and others living and working in rural Wales. Farmers are the muddy power houses and the root systems of rural communities, supporting the rural economy and local services, and are the bedrock of the Welsh language and culture. Is there space for Welsh agriculture within a rewilding landscape? Can such divergent conceptualisations of landscape coexist? Do the recent experiences of engagement with, and the development of rewilding projects provide what’s needed within a Welsh context?
My farm lies in the Elenydd mountains of Mid Wales, close to the summit of Pumlumon and the river Rheidol, has been included in George Monbiot's 'Feral' and is on the doorstep of current and proposed flagship rewilding projects. Being a hillfarmer in the 36th year of my apprenticeship I have been involved in on farm conservation for most of that period. I have worked with community woodland groups, conservation and industry organisations, and the outdoor activity sector (amongst others), and feel that gathering a holistic view of our countryside is paramount in gaining an evolving appreciation of its environmental and social complexity.
Following detailed correspondence and discussion with key proponents and practitioners of rewilding, drawing on evidence and local opinion gathered while consulting with and for the Farmers’ Union of Wales, and building on conversations following the CIEEM Welsh Conference, I argue that there is a greater need than ever to come to a common understanding, based on local evidence and real, inclusive dialogue in order to avoid some of the potential harms that rewilding could perpetrate on a fragile culture, language, landscape and community. Understanding the real, not perceived, challenges, practices, economy, history, and culture of Welsh upland farming is central to the creation of a constructive vision for the future, a future where the needs of local communities are placed first and foremost.
TALK - Rewilding is about human choices - how better conversations can help build trust.
The excitement of public opinion around rewilding requires smarter communication to both enhance nature and deliver public benefit across a broader spectrum of society. Using examples of hosting conversations with hill farmers in the Welsh mountains, exploring common ground with hunters in Europe, working with National Trust rangers, interviewing researchers, chairing debates at the Hay Festival, and framing discussions with young naturalists, I will share ideas on reconciling rewilding with current land use and conservation practices.
TALK - Rewilding Iberá - From Wasteland to Wealth Generator?
How can we as conservationists develop and frame the natural, cultural and social assets connected to restoration landscapes, to achieve positive outcomes for both nature and people?
This workshop will explore this question. It builds on a case study of an integrated national park and rewilding project in the Argentinean Iberaj, the second largest wetland in the world. Here, giant anteaters, tapirs, jaguars and five other species are being reintroduced by the NGO Conservation Land Trust in what has been called the most ambitious rewilding project on the American continent
TALK - Swindale Valley Restoration - Rewilding in a managed landscape.
Swindale Valley forms part of the United Utilities owned Haweswater drinking water catchment and the RSPB Haweswater Nature Reserve. UU & RSPB are working in partnership to trial land management approaches that improve outcomes for wildlife, water quality and other ecosystem services.
Over the past 5 years the partnership has delivered a number of interventions that could be described as rewilding, including large scale river and flood plain restoration, tree planting, moorland grip blocking and livestock exclusion. However, the valley is still part of an active farming operation, with farmed areas being interspersed with areas where natural processes are given precedence.
The talk will outline the interventions that have been delivered and then move onto future plans for the site, which will include economic drivers to extend the area of livestock exclusion to both benefit the natural environment and the farm business.
All of this takes place in the Lake District National Park, which has recently been designated a World Heritage Site. The talk will touch on the cultural issues associated with this and the challenges of delivering environmental improvement against this backdrop.
WORKSHOP - Rewilding in Britain after Brexit: Policy & Practice.
Brexit has the potential to dramatically change land-use in the UK, due to changing policy, market pressures and regulatory arrangements. Perhaps most notably, the UK Government has stated a desire to replace the Common Agricultural Policy with an approach that provides public money for the delivery of public goods and services, which has similarly been echoed by the Welsh Government. This presents new opportunities for the expansion of emerging land management practices like rewilding, removing past barriers and creating new incentives. Rewilding is of particular interest because it seeks to create more self-sustaining socio-ecological systems by restoring nature’s complexity and dynamism and so reduce the need for human management of nature.
This workshop will bring together practitioners and policy-makers to identify priorities and next-steps to allow the implementation of beneficial rewilding. We will collate the policy and practice recommendations of recent and imminent publications on rewilding in Britain. We will briefly present these options and invite participants to identify their priorities, and through group work identify what needs to be done to set an implementation agenda that could facilitate the expansion of desired and beneficial rewilding in Britain post-Brexit.
TALK - Rewilding & climate change mitigation through animal to plant-protein shifts.
Animal to plant-protein food shifts must be included in environmental protection policies, including climate change mitigation. Animal agriculture currently accounts for 16.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the sector is forecast to increase substantially. Unabated, the livestock sector could take 37% to 49% of the GHG budgets consistent with staying below the 2°C and 1.5°C targets, respectively, by 2030. This would require unrealistic and unfeasible reductions from other sectors, and increase reliance on unproven technologies to remove emissions. In addition to significantly reducing GHGs, animal to plant-protein shifts would release land from the agriculture sector, which could take a variety of new uses including restoration to its natural habitat and the reintroduction of lost animal species.
If restoring to its natural habitat involves, for example, the growing of vegetation, this would sequester additional carbon and further contribute to climate change mitigation goals, thus opening up the possibility of joined up policy making across climate change mitigation and rewilding. An example of animal to plant-protein shifts in the UK will be presented, using preliminary results from an ongoing modelling project. A range of scenarios will be presented, together with the impacts on land use, the potential to rewild spared land, and the related carbon sequestration potential. Results will be discussed in relation to the UK climate change mitigation goals, agricultural production, land use and habitat restoration. Results will be presented graphically where possible.
Matthew Hayek is a fellow at Harvard's Animal Law and Policy Program who is current researching the nexus of climate change, food security, and land use.
TALK - Navigating rewilding for predator recovery.
Reversing global declines in predator populations is a major conservation objective, however people are often in conflict over predator conservation and management. We used Q-methodology to understand the viewpoints of people living in an area to which pine martens (Martes martes) were translocated. We identified a clear voice of opposition associated with traditional practices of predator control and autonomous land management.
Support for translocation, however, was characterised by three distinct voices, comprising ethically motivated environmentalists, utilitarian natural resource managers, and environmentally conscious pragmatists. Each of these had distinct expectations and concerns, which is in marked contrast to the binary for or against arguments traditionally presented in public debate of these proposals. In this talk we discuss how rewilding affected stakeholder views of the translocation and predator recovery more generally, emphasising the need for a sensitive approach to conservation interventions.
TALK - Rewildling the bold, the beautiful and the 'dangerous' in India.
India is home to endangered and charismatic mega-fauna like tigers, elephants, rhinos that live amidst one of the highest human populations densities in the world and in a fast-growing economy, leading to rapid loss and fragmentation of habitat and escalating human wildlife-conflict. Conservation in such a complex, diverse setting is increasingly challenging, and in recent years new ideas and solutions have emerged and governments, private enterprises and local communities have come forward to rewild land that is critical for wildlife.
I will look at how a degraded patch of forest—that connects two vital tiger habitats is protected, planted with native, and now safe passage to tigers, leopard, sloth bears and others!
Another project I am associated with is rewilding of a tea estate. This landscape once had the finest of India’s forests, but only small fragments now remain. Living in close proximity to human habitations has meant intense human-elephant conflict. The tea-estate provides ‘safe passage’, and a part of the estate is devoted to growing a native forest.
The third case study is about rewilding within Protected Areas. Villages have been relocated, voluntarily with the aid of government based schemes, in collaboration with NGOs. I will speak on how this has led to that most elusive ‘win-win’ situation for both people and wildlife.
TALK - Recoverable Earth. A twenty-first century environmental narrative
In this talk I will posit that rewilding is giving form to a new environmental narrative that is different in structure and worldview from the dominant 20th century environmental narrative. An appreciation of underlying environmental narratives is important. This is because narratives are a guide to sense making in a complex and uncertain world and provide social movements, science and advocacy with legitimacy and purpose. Narratives create architectures for the telling of normative stories about the state of the world and how we might act within it.
I will briefly outline the origins and core narrative elements of the traditional environmental narrative. The talk will recognise its far-reaching influence but also argue that this has been based on promoting anxiety and constructing characters of good and evil. I will go on to suggest that rewilding stories adopt a different narrative structure that has similarities with those of mental health recovery. Rewilding stories seem to be populated by pioneer characters embracing new ways of thinking and grounded adaptive action that is leading to a reassessment of the possible in conservation practice for nature, people, society and economy.
I will argue that the Recoverable Earth narrative offers structure for the telling of future-looking conservation stories of empowerment, reassessment and change.
TALK - Measuring rewilding progress to deliver practical project implementation across the EU.
Rewilding is emerging as a promising restoration strategy to enhance the conservation status of biodiversity and promote self-regulating ecosystems while re-engaging people with nature. Despite burgeoning interest in the ideas, the practical implementation of rewilding projects remains challenging. In this presentation, I will introduce a novel approach for measuring and monitoring progress in rewilding.
We have devised a bi-dimensional framework for assessing the recovery of processes and their natural dynamics through decreasing human forcing on ecological processes and increasing ecological integrity of ecosystems. The rewilding assessment framework incorporates the reduction of material inputs and outputs associated with human management, as well as the restoration of natural stochasticity and disturbance regimes, landscape connectivity and trophic complexity.
For illustration purposes, I will show the application of the framework to three flagship restoration projects: Millingerwaard (the Netherlands), the Swiss National Park (Switzerland) and Iberaj (Argentina). This approach has the potential to broaden the scope of rewilding initiatives, facilitate sound decision-making and connect the science and practice of rewilding.
TALK - Returning life to lost landscapes - When corridors can’t connect.
The conventional approach to wildlife restoration of creating corridors however efficiently will simply be insufficient to ensure natural colonisation in many landscapes where life is now largely absent.
While the creation of lifescapes such as the Knepp Rewilding Eastate demonstrates clearly that the restoration of semi-natural landscapes driven in part by the activities of large herbivores can drive ecological recovery rapidly, many species which are now extinct or less mobile will be unable to restore their ranges without assistance to recover the novel habitats which remerge over time.
This presentation will examine the practical and social challenges which inhibit species restoration on a significant scale.
TALK - Helping reinforce the population of one of Scotland’s iconic species - The Golden Eagle, in The South Of Scotland.
The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project is an exciting, ambitious and collaborative project between land managers and conservationists working to increase the breeding population and range of golden eagles in the South of Scotland.
Identified by the Scottish Government as a priority for its biodiversity conservation programme, this offers a ground-breaking opportunity to galvanise community interest and support for Scotland's iconic bird.
Once widespread, the population of golden eagles in the South of Scotland is now tiny and fragmented. This partnership project is 1 year into a five year translocation project aiming to boost the population and distribution of golden eagles in the South of Scotland.
TALK - Could Rewilding Stop Climate Breakdown?
The chances of preventing 1.5°C or even 2° of global warming without a major drawdown of atmospheric carbon are now low. To what extent could rewilding help to meet global climate goals? What scale would revegetation and soil recovery need to reach to make a significant impact? Are new food technologies - that have the potential greatly to reduce the necessary agricultural area, releasing land for ecological restoration - part of the answer?
Could rewilding restore not only the natural world, but also humanity’s prospects of getting through the century?"
Talk - Harnessing the power of people to Rewild Our Future
Rewilding is set to become the defining narrative of our time, providing opportunities to innovate and adopt approaches which go beyond charity and proactively work to restore functional ecosystems through species reintroductions and community empowerment. This talk will introduce participants to our proposal to mobilise communities to support and drive pioneering conservation projects that are working to save lesser known invertebrate species from regional and national extinction, at low cost.
We will also demonstrate that by giving ownership to people in local areas and supporting them with financial and structural integrity, we can catalyse their efforts in attempts to restore nature. Lastly, we will present our vision for London and the Borough of Kingston upon Thames, where we are working to foster conservation projects in local reserves that can be replicated on a larger scale, demonstrating the true potential of community led conservation in efforts to Rewild our Future.
TALK - Rewilding: making it work for both people and nature.
People are part of nature and we have shaped, and been shaped by, the landscape and wildlife around us for millennia. And yet, we are currently experiencing both unprecedented ecological declines – including biodiversity loss as well as climate breakdown - but also economic declines that threaten the future of many rural communities. So for us rewilding is fundamentally about seeking a balance between people and nature where both can thrive once more. One where flourishing ecosystems support more vibrant, resilient, nature-based economies which can be both restorative and productive.
Where local people and communities play an integral role in shaping a future on their terms which supports ecological, economic as well as cultural and social connectivity. We have a rich history of coming together to manage our natural assets for the common good. We now have an opportunity - if not an obligation - to demonstrate that there is a future for the land and sea that works for both people and nature. This presentation will explore the principles and practicalities of such an approach"
TALK - Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Moral Values in Management.
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), centred on the Yellowstone National Park, is an area of twenty-two million acres (89,031 km2)—over a third of the total land area of the UK. Spanning part of three western states in the USA, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, the area comprises five national forests, three national wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management holdings, state lands, two national parks, Indian lands and five million acres of private land. Within this landscape milieu, wild things are appearing in places they have not been seen for generations. From the Yellowstone National Park at the GYE’s centre, bison, grizzlies and wolves are being restored to the periphery. Beyond the boundaries of the Park, increasingly, they are hopping fences, sinking their teeth into cattle, running from hunters, running at hunters, grazing gardens, and occasionally injuring and killing people.
As a social phenomenon, this is viewed as the sum-total of advocacy, management, protection and resistance measures by advocates and critics of wild things, through which advocates seem to be achieving a narrow lead for now. The reasons for these human actions are complex and as much as they are ‘pragmatic’ or ‘evidence-based’, they are also moral. I look at the historical and cultural reasons why those whose work centres on wolves, grizzlies and bison believe what they do about wildness.
FILM - What the reintroduction of wolves could mean for the Scottish Highlands
Bringing Back the Wolf is a 20 minute documentary examining the various implications of reintroducing wolves into the Scottish Highlands. The video is led through the opposing arguments with the dialogue of 4 interviewees - each representing a different interest group. The film explores existing impacts of wolves in ecosystems where they have recolonised naturally (Western Europe) or been brought back through reintroduction programmes (Yellowstone National Park).
The screening of the video will allow conference participants the opportunity to discuss these issues amongst one another having had various points illustrated in the video. Although wolves are the primary subject, many of the points raised could apply to almost any reintroduced species (particularly predators - of great relevance now with lynx).
TALK - Making rewilding pay for Nature and People, exploring how land can pay people and let nature be restored?
A lecture by Peter Smith, Director of the Wildwood Trust. Peter will talk about the history of rewilding in Britain, the many efforts of people over the last 100 years who tried to rewild and the problems they faced. He will also discuss the fundamental problems faced by nature and the fundamental remedies that will allow rewilding and human progress.
Peter has dedicated his career to promoting rewilding and understanding the problems that rewilding faces. A forensic examination of the economic and cultural issues surrounding rewilding has been his passion, getting to grips with the fundamental forces that are destroying nature and what is the most efficient way we can reverse the depletion and dilapidation of our land, that will allow economic and environmental prosperity for all.
TALK - Mass Regeneration of Heavily Degraded Land: A Tale from Southern Spain
In this talk I will tell the tale of how hundreds of everyday people are coming together to make the regeneration of heavily degraded land possible as a mass, participatory activity. Ecosystem Restoration Camps is a new organisation made possible by the shared intention of hundreds of people around the world who want to repair heavily degraded places. We do this whilst providing everyday people with the opportunity to have an experience of a lifetime, either as a camper, a student, or a festival goer. In this talk I will also discuss the challenges of implementing such a new and different model of restoring our earth.
WORKSHOP - Towards an enabling policy environment for rewilding with large herbivores.
The agricultural revolution caused the demise of large herbivore functional guilds across Europe. Many rewilding projects aspire to restore these guilds and the grazing, vegetation and scavenger dynamics they create. This requires the establishment of free-ranging, wild living herds of horses and cattle intermingling with ‘wild’ herbivores such as deer, bison and boar. Achieving this rewilding vision is currently constrained by a set of interlinked regulations governing domestic stock and associated farming practices. For instance: i) creating grazing landscapes involving multiple land owners and herds is constrained by cross-compliance regulations and subsidies that work around the idea that individual parcels of land (and hence herds) are independent of each other, ii) regulations require calves to be ear-tagged within three days of birth which constrains wild birthing, iii) if TB was identified in a wilded herd, Bovine TB regulations would require that the herd is tested every two months (which would be a nightmare), and lastly iv) in most countries it is illegal to let carcasses lie thereby limiting the restoration of scavenger dynamics.
This workshop will commence with short presentations, by David Brown (National Trust) who will outline the challenges emerging from actions to create a large grazing landscape (Wild Purbeck, Dorset UK) and by Frans Schepers (Rewilding Europe) who will outline progress in the Netherlands to create a more supportive policy environment for the emerging ‘kept wild’ category of herbivores. Frans will also introduce the recently approved EC GrazeLIFE project that aims to develop policy to support natural grazing.
Using the carousel workshop technique will then collectively brainstorm solutions to a range of policies that currently constrain the expansion and management of wilded herds. James LePage for DEFRA (UK Government) will provide a policy-makers response to the ideas generated. Our hope is that this workshop will generate the material for a policy brief or paper on the topic. The workshop will be facilitated by Paul Jepson, a leading expert on rewilding policy.
We particularly welcome participation in this workshop from people with experience of managing grazing animals either on reserves or farms.
In preparation, for the workshop we recommend two reports produced by Rewilding Europe:
Presenters: David Brown (National Trust), Frans Schepers (Rewilding Europe), James LePage (DEFRA), Workshop facilitator: Paul Jepson (Ecosulis Ltd).
TALK - How rewilding America's wild horses helps save habitats and humanity.
In this talk, Moses and I will explore the gap between indigenous understandings of nature and its application in a modern world, and how rewilding has a broad scale of applications to humans, animals and the world we share together.
Manda will also share why specific animals and wild horses in particular can not only help to provide environmental but also, spiritual balance. Moses will share Lakota specific understandings of natural law and harmonious living. We have much to learn in how to extend the successful European rewilding movement into North America and delve into why Indigenous people, as the original stewards of our land, are a key component to a sustainable future for the world.
Moses Brings Plenty is a Lakota born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, United States. Moses is an spiritual leader and dedicated to preserving culture and tradition as CANA Foundation's Director of Native Relations.
TALK - The use of evidence in landscape restoration.
Rewilding is a wicked problem and presents several unique challenges for decision-makers. To effectively achieve conservation impact rewilding should occur at the landscape scale, address a range of ecosystem processes, and incorporate multiple diverse stakeholders. This complexity necessitates the need for information that enables conservation professionals to make challenging decisions in various management contexts and under high levels of uncertainty. This study aimed to understand the types of information conservation practitioners are using as evidence to plan and implement landscape restoration projects.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants from 14 conservation NGO's completing landscape restoration activities as part of the European based Endangered Landscapes Programme. The project findings support the view that practitioners undervalue empirical evidence for their decisions. Instead, experiential sources, such as local knowledge, project experience and personal experience, were reported to be the most useful evidence for management decisions. This has important implications for how information should be provided to practitioners to improve the use of evidence in rewilding activities.
WORKSHOP - Imaginative Dwelling: understanding the associations between upland species and landscapes.
This creative workshop involves activities in pairs, and a re-wilding game based in the UK.
Participants will be assigned various cards representing re-wilding. Each card will have instructions on role-playing. During the first exercise only the role-playing instructions are relevant. There are two roles, and each participant will have the opportunity to act out both roles in pairs.
Once the role-playing has finished pairs will join to make one large group, and together choose half of these images to now be items in a re-wilding game. Choose carefully, because these items will affect the group’s ability in solving the problem presented to them.
TALK - How do rewilders define rewilding, and how do they think it should be done?
Within rewilding, there is some difference of opinion about what rewilding is, what it should aim to do, and how this should be achieved. These issues range from ecological questions about the validity of different ecosystem baselines to political questions about the utility of different arguments for rewilding to philosophical questions about how we understand what wildness is. Yet so far, there has been no systematic study of these issues. This study explores the views and preferences of a range of European rewilding advocates, using Q-methodology. It finds that there are two distinct positions.
The first, transformative wildness enthusiasm, is defined by its enthusiasm of large scale, radical landscape change, of natural systems with restored functions taking their own autonomous paths, and sees little value in traditional land uses. The second, pragmatic, cosmopolitan rewilding, is more open to political compromise, has relative greater concern for local livelihoods and culture, and embraces many forms of rewilding in many places. It is not enthusiastic for notions of ecological purity.
There are important areas of consensus on things like the validity of urban rewilding, the need for initial interventions to start rewilding process, and the problems with de-extinction and taxon substitutes. Overall, this illustrates both important diversity within the rewilding movement, particularly over the relative merits of pragmatic compromise versus grand visions of landscape transformation, but also illustrates that many critiques aimed at rewilding may be tackling view that are not widely held by rewilders. It helps illuminate the potential paths for rewilding in Europe, and future issues that will need addressing.
EXHIBIT - Wild Intrigue: Rewilding people in North East England
Our intrigue for the wilds inspires all we do, particularly enchanting people about wildlife to create ‘that’ spark, leading to an understanding of, a love for, and a desire to protect; nature.
For the past four years we have worked on establishing, developing and leading our collection of ‘Expeditions’; based in thoughtfully selected sites with like-minded landowners across northern England and Scotland; such as the Isle of Carna (West Scotland), Bamff Estate (Perthshire) and Wild Northumbrian (Northumberland).
We have been privileged to rewild adult Expeditioneers on these rural adventures; allowing them to retreat into wild or vast British landscapes away from the chaos of modern life, whilst learning important naturalist skills in the field such as camera trapping and bat surveying, and ethically watching and photographing our fascinating, native wildlife.
Working with our wonderful site landowners is increasingly important to us, and rewilding adults is a huge passion; however for the last year we’ve been working to appeal to those who are less likely to engage with nature and rewilding as a pastime; north-east England based families.
By utilising something familiar to all – pizza! – we have rewilded over 100 north east based family members this year with our Bats & Pizza Night Mini-Expeds. Speaking with these families and witnessing the benefits of pulling them away from their weekly routines for a burst of wildness has been a huge motivation for us to enhance our work in rewilding the minds of families and other ‘hard-to-engage’ groups with Nature.
We invite you to our exhibition, a collection of photography, camera trap footage and film, illustrating the social, ecological and story-telling aspects of our Expeditions and Mini-Expeds, and how we use such imagery to ‘rewild’ social media timelines; applying technology to engage people with the enchantment of Britain’s wildlife.
WORKSHOP - Scoping Next Generation Measurement Approaches for Rewilding
The notion of monitoring is central to modern conservation institutions and for good reasons. Among other things we need to understand the impact of interventions, report on progress towards desired ends and can respond to changing situations. Rewilding is creating an imperative for innovation in conservation monitoring. This is because rewilding is characterised by the ambition of restoring ecosystem processes and dynamics and moving towards a more self-willed nature where restored system interactions steer future outcomes and directions.
The workshop will involve 3-4 panellists presenting rewilding measurement tools. The panellists will be industry & academic leaders and will have current rewilding examples and experiences that they can draw from. They will each have their own method of undertaking monitoring works on rewilding, which will allow the workshop participants to explore the different approaches available, as well as their pros and cons. Following questions, workshop presenters will be invited to discuss how the rewilding community can benefit from and improve the tools, whether there is an appetite for them, how future collaboration and research could accelerate learning and tool development.
The following panellists are slated to participate: Kate Jones (Professor of Ecology & Biodiversity, University College London), Camilla Fløjgård (Postdoctoral Researcher, Århus University), Sara King (Biodiversity Assessment Specialist, Ecosulis), Sophie Benbow (Marine Programme Manager, Eurasia, Fauna & Flora International), Christopher Sandom (Lecturer in Biology, University of Sussex).
The panel and interactive workshop following presentations will be facilitated by Vance Russell, Biodiversity Lead, Ecosulis.
TALK - How can we use evidence to improve decision making for restoration and rewilding?
Restoration and rewilding are increasingly being incorporated into the targets of global environmental conventions and policy agendas. The expansion of awareness and increase in funding that comes with this raised profile mean that it is vital that rewilding and restoration projects can be shown to be scientifically rigorous and to make effective use of resources. The use of evidence, describing the effectiveness of actions for restoring natural processes, habitats and species, is an essential part of this.
I will discuss the types of evidence that may be relevant to restoration and rewilding projects, which are often large scale and process focused, and introduce one potential tool to facilitate the application of evidence-based restoration. Finally, I will describe the use and generation of evidence by the projects within the CCI's Endangered Landscape Programme.
TALK - Rewilding France - The state of play and ways forward.
Among European countries, rural abandonment has given France one of the largest areas of natural and semi-natural habitat (forests, heathlands and shrub-lands, etc). Populations of large herbivores (red deer, roe deer, chamois, wild boar, etc.) have increased dramatically, largely thanks to hunters, and ibex have been reintroduced in the Alps and Pyrenees. Predators have come back, or their populations strengthened (bears, wolves, lynx, etc.). In the sky, vultures, ospreys and other species have made a comeback.
Many rivers have also seen their wildlife come back (otters, beavers, fish) thanks to improvement in water quality and dam removal. Loggerhead turtles are breeding again on the Mediterranean coast, where old dusky groupers can now be found, and harbour seal populations are expanding.
The rewilding of France seems promising from a conservation point of view. However, this dynamic is at odds with the way many rural areas picture their agro-pastoral heritage and with guilt-laden messaging about biodiversity loss in the mainstream media. The presence or return of many of the above-mentioned species are strongly opposed by rural interests, which find echoes in broader political and ideological battles.
A largely artificial opposition between wild and a domestic nature has been built into political discourse. As a consequence, local communities fail to embrace the potential of rewilding to provide a positive and innovative narrative for their future. Rewilding is helplessly endured, or hidden in plain sight by its proponents.
In addition to sharing an updated representation of their landscapes, people living among expanding forests and increasingly abundant large animals need actual business opportunities that can create jobs and incomes from nature renewed bounty, and they need proven techniques to cohabit with potentially dangerous species.
A growing coalition is being brought together to tackle this challenge: trialling new technical and organisational approaches to managing conflicts with wolves, imagining new business models for rewilding areas and highlighting rewilding’s potential as a nature-based solution to climate change, through the enhance resilience it provides to socio-ecological systems threatened by climate change (mountains, Mediterranean back-country, coastlines; etc.)
We aim to help make France wilder, with more space for wild nature, wildlife and natural processes, and more resilient, with more opportunities for local people that will make them proud.
WORKSHOP - Socio-ecological impacts of rewilding projects
Rewilding projects create both opportunities and challenges for local communities and other stakeholders. The core goals of rewilding projects often focus on ecological outcomes related to restoring ecological processes but a wide range of further aims have also become aligned with core rewilding objectives. These relate to additional social and ecological outcomes, and have the potential to create a much broader range of impacts. Investigating the potential consequences of these rewilding-aligned aims will facilitate planning to promote positive impacts and mitigate risks of undesirable impacts.
This workshop will focus on identifying the objectives often aligned with rewilding, and exploring their potential impacts on humans and ecosystems. We acknowledge that as a relatively new area within the field of conservation, there is currently limited information on the ecological and social impacts of rewilding projects. We will therefore draw on the experience from conservation initiatives with similar objectives globally to assess potential impacts of each of the aligned aims that we have identified.
The aim is to create a working group bringing together scientists and practitioners who are interested in the impacts of aligned aims within rewilding projects. This new network is being built with the ambition that it will lead to new research collaborations to provide evidence to inform the practice of rewilding through the submission of grant applications, research papers and reports. As part of our aim to build an lasting network, we would like to circulate some materials to participants ahead of the workshop.
Please could you send an email to Helen Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org) at least 1 week prior to the meeting if you intend to book into this session.
TALK - The planning, management, monitoring and evaluation of rewilding former arable land at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire
Wicken Fen is a National Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire under the management of The National Trust. The “Old Fen” has been a nature reserve since the end of the 19th Century and is managed to maintain its character. In recent decades the area owned by The National Trust has increased to around 800 ha, as they have acquired land adjacent to the old fen.
The newly acquired land was in arable production in the latter half of the 20th Century but is now managed by a combination of fluctuating water tables and a mixed herd of Koniks and Highland Cattle run in socially expressive breeding groups, with the aim of creating new habitats and functioning ecosystems. Over the last 11 years rigorous monitoring has taken place to give a baseline and investigate the changes to the hydrology, vegetation and animal populations across Wicken.
This presentation comes from those involved from the beginning of the process, as well as relative newcomers to the project to give perspectives on: the aims of the project, the pitfalls of land acquisition, life with neighbouring landowners, animal husbandry, and the monitoring of the environment.
Co-authors: Owen Mountford (CEH), Stuart Warrington, Carol Laidlaw and Sarah Smith (National Trust) & Pete Carey (Bodsey Ecology)
TALK - Marmite boar: love and hate in the Forest of Dean
The rules for being a wild animal in the UK are simple. Be quiet; leave no trace; stay in your place; and, most important of all, always be afraid of people, and never make them afraid. So what happens when a creature we wiped out centuries ago comes back and breaks all those rules?
As part of my Masters dissertation in Environment, Science and Society (UCL), I conducted a qualitative study of human encounters and relationships with wild boar (Sus scrofa) in the Forest of Dean, now home to the largest-known population of the species in the UK. My aim was to understand how the people living there respond to the boar, and how they have adapted to co-existence with the boar. Through in-depth interviews with nearly 30 residents – including wildlife photographers, dog-walkers, horse-riders, gardeners, and parents – I found changes at work that went beyond anything I had expected.
Following a concise background of the wild boar’s reintroduction to the Forest of Dean and my research method, I will delve into the diversity of encounters that people have had with the boar, focusing on bodily and emotional experiences. I will discuss people’s reasons for fearing, hating, or loving the boar, including the possible psychology underlying these. And I will explore the adaptations that some have chosen or felt forced to make, and more subconscious adaptations, arguing, ultimately, that the wild boar have not simply rewilded themselves. They have rewilded us.
EXHIBIT - Encouraging Wild Creatures and Wilder Lives in an Artificial Landscape
New Life on the Old West is a Heritage Lottery funded project in the Cambridgeshire fens that aims to make greater space for animals and plants along the intensively managed Old West river corridor between Wicken Fen and Ouse Fen wetland reserves. We will be creating berms – shelves in the steep ditch banks – across the extensive Internal Drainage Board ditch network, within which marginal aquatic plants and beetles will naturally colonise; ponds on arable farmland and community green space for amphibians to find and breed in; scrapes on arable farmland for wetland birds to forage in; and enhanced flower-rich river banks to benefit pollinators. We hope that these small-scale landscape interventions will act as effective natural stepping stones, creating pockets and corridors of wild nature within the artificial arable landscape to enhance the resilience of the internationally important wetland reserves that adjoin the project area.
We have chosen 25 flagship species for the project, “the DNA of the Fens” to capture the imagination of local communities. They are representative of a range of taxa and include the charismatic, the familiar, and the rare. Each species will benefit from habitat enhancements and have its presence and abundance monitored. We hope to connect the community to nature through guided walks, animal and plant ID training days, bioblitzes, environmental DNA and water quality sampling, elver growing, animal poetry, photography competitions, and “Fenland Natural Heroes” story telling. We hope our legacy will be a greater number and array of wild creatures in the project area and communities that are more cohesive, with a greater appreciation of the wildness present in nearby nature that take an active part in the stewarding and monitoring of it.
Our posters provide a visual overview of what he hope to achieve within our project area that extends to within 6 miles of the David Attenborough Building. Please come and see them for yourself and I’ll be standing ready to answer any questions that you may have.
WORKSHOP - Disease Risk Analysis for Re-wilding.
The workshop will focus on issues surrounding how rewilding changes the interface between hosts and microbes/parasites that could pose risk both to endemic and introduced species. Microbes are part of the ecosystem, and need to feature in the debate about rewilding.
We will provide tools and training in understanding processes to evaluate this, and explore co-evolution of hosts-parasites and 'host range' of microbes before using some examples and discussing the principle of disease risk analysis that might help mitigate these risks.
Tony Sainsbury is Senior Lecturer in Wild Animal Health at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.
TALK - From species to systems, the development of rewilding at Durrell.
I will demonstrate how the conservation thinking of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has matured over four decades from a zoo interested in the captive breeding and reintroduction of species, into an organisation concentrating on the rewilding of ten sites world-wide. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has been running field programmes, or working with partners, to conserve critically endangered species in Brazil, India, Madagascar, the Mascarene Islands, Caribbean and Jersey in the British Channel Islands. In all of these cases the work has developed to embrace additional species, preserve and manage their habitats, and in some cases to the restoration of whole ecosystems.
I will illustrate the talk with the case study of Round Island, Mauritius, where we have removed exotic mammals, and are restoring the plant and reptile communities. The endemic Mauritian Giant Tortoise is extinct and we are successfully using the Aldabra Giant Tortoise as an ecological replacement, fulfilling the role of a grazer and seed disperser. I will show how this is influencing the restoration of other islands in the region and how we are planning to further develop the work on Round Island.
WORKSHOP - Rewilding The Egyptian Vulture through OSM Earth Mapathon
Join coordinated mapping projects by taking a task and mapping a part of the world in OpenStreetMap, the free and editable map of the world. Communities, organizations and governments worldwide have access to these maps to address local challenges. You can join thousands of others to map OpenStreetMap and support these communities in need. OpenStreetMap is the community-driven free and editable map of the world, supported by the not-for-profit OpenStreetMap Foundation.
No previous experience required. Just come along with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop to map indigenous land rights, protected areas, logging roads and more! By mapping these, we can help inform rewilding and conservation practices globally.
To find out more about OSM Earth visit https://osm.earth/.
To find out more about OpenStreetMap in general, visit https://www.openstreetmap.org/about
TALK - The Lynx and Us
A mixture of both bone and cultural evidence tells us that lynx once roamed the length and breadth of Britain, but died out several centuries ago. There is now a growing national discussion about reintroducing the Eurasian lynx to the UK, yet levels of understanding of the species are poor, resulting in an increasingly polarised and poorly informed debate. Lynx are solitary, mainly forest-dwelling predators of small- to medium-sized ungulates, especially roe deer, and require huge areas for their home ranges.
In recent decades, the species has made something of a comeback across Europe, helped partly by a series of reintroduction projects. This turnaround has meant that lynx now inhabit busy, human-modified landscapes, used for farming, forestry, tourism and hunting. What challenges and conflicts arise and how are these resolved? What opportunities does their return bring? And what does this all mean for Scotland and the rest of the UK?
WORKSHOP - Communicating for more wilderness in Germany
The communication initiative „Wilderness in Germany“ is a broad national network and communication platform of organisations working for wilderness, including national key messages and also communication support at a regional level. Within this session you will see communication examples, lessons learned and results from Germany.
There will be also an interactive part with participants to develop new and changed communication ideas and concepts based on design thinking and psychological concepts to use in for future challenges. Be inspired!
TALK - How can we afford rewilding? The importance of high-yield farming
Re-wilding is likely to take up land currently used for farming. As such, given the continued growth of our population, it can only be accommodated if lost production is offset by converting natural habitats to farmland elsewhere, by reducing per capita demand (through changes in diet or levels of food waste), by increasing yields on remaining farmland, or by some combination of these approaches. We consider the scope in the UK of each of these, and show that yield increases may be both essential and potentially desirable.
Using data for UK birds we report that populations of most species of conservation concern would be increased by linking yield growth and habitat restoration. This land-sparing approach could also dramatically reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from UK agriculture. We close by examining some widely perceived costs of high-yield farming, and considering the changes in both governmental and conservation policy needed to enable large-scale habitat recovery while meeting food demand.
Co-authors: Rhys Green & Tom Finch, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
TALK - How will we know the impact of rewilding on nature and people?
Rewilding and other landscape-scale conservation initiatives involve implementing efforts at large spatial scales. Due to their size and complexity, time for effects to be manifested, and diverse multiple aims and stakeholders, they present a big challenge not only in achieving multiple objectives but in monitoring success for each.
Rewilding projects in particular tend to be more open-ended, may lack defined targets in terms of species or habitats, and often focus on establishing natural ecosystem processes. To provide guidance to applicants for the CCI’s Endangered Landscapes Programme (ELP), we developed a monitoring framework for ELP that encompasses a broad range of physical, biological, ecological function, ecosystem services and societal outcomes. Key to identifying appropriate indicators of impact is a demonstrable relationship to the intervention, such as through suitable counterfactuals.
Given the relatively short time frame over which projects will be funded through ELP, identifying interim measures and achievements on the pathway to success is critical. While developing this framework, we identified significant gaps in knowledge on how to measure some types of impact, and a lack of readily accessible examples. In this talk, we describe the monitoring framework, and provide recent working examples from ELP projects.
Co-authors: James Pearce-Higgins, David Thomas, Nancy Ockendon.
TALK - What is #rewilding? A diversity of online interpretations.
Where is rewilding happening? Can you rewild a garden, or a farm?
Is there a proper rewilding? Is pure wilderness a myth?
For three years I've been absorbing the ways people engage with these questions online. I will present and then discuss these observations in an open setting with participants.
WORKSHOP - Using tech to monitor progress - Build your own rewilding project app with Coreo.
Evaluating the success of rewilding projects relies on close monitoring of re-introduced populations. Many projects will rely on records submitted by the public (citizen scientists) especially for more mobile species such as birds. Geospatial apps can greatly assist with data collection on these species and can also be used to provide important project information and ID guides so that users have this information in their pocket for reference at any point.
In this workshop we will take you step-by-step through how to build an app with Coreo - a unique platform that includes all the tools you need to build your own apps and run engaging data collection projects, on any scale. Natural Apptitude work closely with many ecologically focused organisations and projects to help them develop technology to collect information on biodiversity.
We recognise that custom-built apps are prohibitively expensive for many projects and so we decided to build Coreo.
In this workshop we will guide attendees through the process of setting up an app. The app will provide information about, and collect data on, a rewilding project. The app will work on the web and can be installed to your phone. The example app will:
- enable users to record taxa in the field
- feature a detailed ID guide, including image and sound files
- show all records submitted to the project
- feature an interactive map of all records
Please note that you will need a laptop connected to WiFi to take part in this workshop.
TALK - Rewilding and the return of the pool frog
The pool frog is the UK's rarest amphibian. It was driven to extinction in the late twentieth century, largely as a result of habitat loss and degradation. Earlier this century it was returned via a reintroduction project using Swedish stock. Although still at the early stages, the results from the two reintroduction sites are promising. The increased interest in rewilding presents opportunities for pool frog conservation, since it could allow extensive restoration of habitat in the species' former range, including the Fens.
Further reintroductions would be needed in order to re-establish populations, and as the species has such specialist habitat requirements, a rewildling approach would need certain characteristics to be beneficial to pool frogs. Fundamentally, an outcomes-based approach would assist with ensuring that objectives for pool frogs and rewilding are optimally aligned.
EXHIBIT - A Wild Garden - Rewilding Urban Spaces
Is it possible to rewild an urban garden whilst still using it as a functional space? And what are the benefits of rewilding such (relatively) small areas? This exhibit will provide a photo-driven account of the past four years I have spent rewilding my urban garden on the back of a council estate in Bristol.
I have been using trial and error to test different plants, habitats, nesting sites, aquatic environments and ideas in an effort to make my garden as attractive to as broad a range of species as possible. The exhibit will cover all of the successes (and failures) I have had, highlight the increases in native biodiversity I have seen year-on-year and highlight what key changes I think need to be made to improve every garden to benefit local biodiversity. I will broadly split my exhibit up into five key sections focusing on: Greener Lawns, Refugia, Waterworlds, Nectar Flow and Connectivity.
TALK - Effective marine rewilding: restored habitats drive new life into impoverished marine ecosystems
Many communities depend upon coastal marine ecosystems for their health and well-being. However, unsustainable coastal exploitation of these crucial marine ecosystems has led to the significant decline in the ecosystem services that these integral areas maintain. Global declines of oyster reefs, and the degradation of mangrove forests and seagrass beds has greatly impacted the marine environment and reduced the economic productivity for communities and stakeholders from temperate to tropical regions.
Due to unsustainable fishing practices, and habitat destruction, such losses have led to significantly reduced ecosystem-level wildlife, fishery biomass, reduced water quality, and ecosystem functions. We draw upon our own research and examples from around the world of how marine ecosystem restoration can improve the local biodiversity, productivity and economy of the area.
Increases of ecosystem function and ecosystem services have been reported in the U.S and U.K, through successful oyster restoration and management. We draw upon these shining examples as best practice to move forwards with projects designed to improve other key ecosystems such as Salt marshes, seagrass beds and mangrove forests.
Co-delivered by Ran Levy, Morven Robertson, Jacob Kean Hammerson.
Ian Hendy is Head of Conservation at The Blue Marine Foundation and visiting researcher at the University of Portsmouth.
TALK - Financing rewilding: existing and future opportunities.
The well-documented shortage of funding applies as much for rewilding as it does for other nature conservation projects. There is an urgent need to expand traditional funding mechanisms and as well as to attract additional sources of finance. During my talk, I will discuss the potential sources of finance for rewilding projects, including revenue generation from nature-based businesses and investment opportunities.
Through case studies from Rewilding Europe and Rewilding Europe Capital, I will illustrate how we are developing and investing in enterprises across Europe. I will also discuss potential future opportunities for innovative finance mechanisms.
TALK - Beavers hot, Boars not? Stakeholder communication following unplanned reintroduction.
While the complex processes involved in developing, performing and monitoring a reintroduction programme is gaining increasing understanding, what to do when species turn up 'unplanned' creates more uncertainties and potential for conflict. In the UK, this is well encapsulated by the unofficial return of beavers and wild boar, two free-living species that have significant ecological roles relevant to rewilding philosophy, but can equally stir negative reactions from those living and working in areas where they have come back.
Based on experience from our recent stakeholder meetings exploring future strategic management for each species in Britain, this talk will provide an overview of how communication and trust can be essential to reaching compromise in the non-ideal situation where keystone species are restored without prior planning.