What is rewilding?

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.

Rewilding is about:

Nature’s own ways

Nature knows best when it comes to survival and self-governance.

We can give it a helping hand by creating the right conditions – by removing dykes and dams to free up rivers, by stopping active management of wildlife populations, by allowing natural forest regeneration, and by reintroducing species that have disappeared as a result of man’s actions.

Then we should step back and let nature manage itself.

Bringing back wildlife

European wildlife species have strongly declined, even in our wildest areas. Some of them have even gone extinct, while they play a critically important ecological role. Rewilding works to restore lost species guilds by giving them space to thrive, by population enhancement, and by reintroducing key native species.

Ensuring wellbeing

When nature is healthy, we are healthier too. We rely on the natural world for water, food and air. There is a growing realisation that connecting with wild nature makes us feel good and keeps us mentally and physically well.

Rewilding is about reconnecting a modern society – both rural and urban – with wilder nature. We invite people to experience and live in these new, rewilded landscapes.

Delivering for the future

There is no defined end point for rewilding. The aim is to support nature-driven processes, which in turn will bring about wilder nature. This takes time and space. Rewilding is about moving up a scale of wildness, where every step moving up this scale is seen as progress.

If we create and protect areas where rewilding can take place, both people and wildlife will benefit in the long term.

“The goal of rewilding is not to restore a painting that then needs curating, it is about restoring a system that can come to look after itself.”

Wouter Helmer

Wouter Helmer
Head of Rewilding

Why is rewilding vital in Europe?

Our ecosystems need to recover

We not only need to protect nature, we also need to restore it. Many ecosystems – the basis of our natural wealth – are broken. Rewilding offers a historical opportunity to recover them. Robust and connected ecosystems make us more resilient to impacts of climate change.

We need keystone species

These vital species, including top predators and large herbivores, drive ecological processes. Wildlife is now making a comeback in Europe, but numbers are still low. Rewilding will accelerate their recovery and restore important food chains and trophic cascades.

Wilder nature as an ally

Naturally functioning ecosystems are better at providing us with clean air and water, preventing flooding, storing carbon and helping us to adapt to climate change. Rewilding links ecology with modern economies, where wilder nature acts as an ally in solving modern socio-economic issues.

Communities benefit

Rewilding boosts local economies where alternatives are scarce. We work towards situations where nature tourism flourishes and local people earn a fair living from nature-based enterprises. This will help revitalizing both rural and urban communities.

Wild places inspire people

Experiencing the thrill of wild nature reconnects people with our living planet. This improves health and wellbeing and builds a shared sense of humanity and pride, both on the countryside and in cities.

Nature’s ways are cost-effective

We believe that nature is fully capable of taking care of itself. This means letting natural processes shape our landscapes and ecosystems, instead of people actively managing that often requires high, recurrent costs. Self-regulating landscapes are more sustainable in the long run.

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