Today rewilding organisations from 15 different European countries are calling for a wilder Europe and the inclusion of rewilding in the European Green Deal and EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020. This has the potential to significantly mitigate climate change and reverse biodiversity decline.
Rewilding combats climate change
Yesterday EU commissioner Frans Timmermans presented the European Green Deal in Brussels. While this document is very ambitious on climate actions, Rewilding Europe believes the deal should place far more emphasis on nature-based solutions and large-scale nature recovery to help tackle both the current climate and biodiversity emergencies.
By providing and enhancing nature-based solutions, rewilding can help to mitigate and overcome a whole range of societal challenges. Working with nature can – in a timely and cost-effective way – protect us from flooding and coastal erosion, minimise the threat of wildfire, secure drinking water supplies, ensure human health and wellbeing, and drive economic growth. Rewilding is also one of the most practical and cost-effective ways of mitigating climate change, and helps to boost climate resilience.
Two sides of the same coin
According to a 2017 report on natural climate solutions, the restoration of carbon-rich natural ecosystems such as wild forests, natural grasslands, seabeds, coastal habitats and particularly peatlands could provide at least 37 percent of the greenhouse gas mitigation required if we want a good chance of keeping warming below 2°C until 2030. Despite this, only a tiny fraction of climate change investments is currently allocated to such solutions.
“The European Green Deal should therefore embrace rewilding as an innovative approach that can benefit both nature and people,” says Rewilding Europe Managing Director Frans Schepers. “This goes beyond large-scale tree planting, a technical measure which is proposed in this deal. We really need natural solutions, and now have a historic opportunity to drive forward and scale up such natural solutions across Europe, to as combat climate change. These are two sides of the same coin.”
Join our call to action
Recognising the numerous benefits that rewilding provides, Rewilding Europe and 14 European partners are today calling for a wide range of actors to join us in working towards a wilder Europe – from citizens, policy makers and river managers right through to financiers, foresters and scientists.
This “Call to Action for a Wilder Europe” is one of the outcomes of a meeting of leading rewilding practitioners, held in the Spanish city of Cuenca in early November. It is designed as a public declaration of purpose, principles and proposed action, and we invite all organisations, rewilding initiatives, action groups, NGOs, scientific institutions and companies to endorse it.
“We encourage everyone passionate about European wild nature to show their public support for this document, use it and forward it to others,” says Magnus Sylvén of the WILD Foundation, an international conservation organisation which helped to prepare the Call to Action. “It should inspire and energise us all as we work towards a wilder Europe.”
“Rewilding is open to all,” adds Frans Schepers. “This call to action shows that everyone can play a valuable role in taking the European rewilding movement forwards.”
The three-day Cuenca gathering saw members of Rewilding Europe and associated foundations come together with representatives of ARK Nature, SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, Ecosulis, Natural Forest Academy, WILD Foundation and Comunitat Valenciana. This highly experienced group comprised experts who have been working on conservation and rewilding initiatives over the past 30 years, in Europe and beyond.
In addition to the Call to Action, a set of European rewilding principles was also drawn up at the gathering (viewable on the Call to Action). The aim of both documents is to increase the scale, momentum and unity of practical and grounded rewilding in Europe.
The establishment of rewilding principles will help to define what is different and special about rewilding, providing coherence, inspiration and transparency, and position rewilding in relation to other conservation approaches. In particular, they can be used to shape nature-based solutions and address the current climate and biodiversity emergencies.
“These principles will not only create a framework of goals, approaches and obligations, but allow flexibility in the implementation of practical rewilding measures,” says Ecosulis Nature Recovery Lead Dr. Paul Jepson, a scientist and rewilding expert who moderated the meetings.
Nature-based solutions are now receiving increasing attention in political and policy discourse, with 2020-2030 declared the UN Decade on Ecological Restoration.
“This creates an opportunity and imperative to contribute rewilding principles that can translate aspirational words into practical action,” adds Jepson.
Taking the lead
The following organisations have already endorsed the “Call to Action for a Wilder Europe”:
- ARK Nature, the Netherlands
- Biotope’s fund for nature, France
- Ecosulis, UK
- Natural Forest Academy, Germany
- Rewilding Apennines, Italy
- Rewilding Britain, UK
- Rewilding Europe
- Rewilding Oder Delta, Germany and Poland
- Rewilding Portugal
- Rewilding Sweden
- Rewilding Spain
- Rewilding Rhodopes, Bulgaria
- Rewilding Ukraine
- SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, UK
- Suomen Luonnon Villiinnytysyhdistys Ry, Finland
- WILD Foundation, US