Create wildness in large and small landscapes so that natural processes, wildlife, and human communities can thrive together.
Rewilding restores missing or removed elements of nature, such as native plant and animal species, so that humans and nonhumans can create wild landscapes together. Rewilding can happen at a wide range of scales, from microrewilding projects in urban settings to nation-spanning campaigns such as the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative. Rewilding focuses on natural processes, from microbes in soil to the role of apex predators. It builds connections between people and place. It supports local communities and nature-based economies, such as pastoralism, farming, and fishing, while aiming to restore wildness, including dam-free rivers, wildlife corridors, forest gardens, and urban forests. It creates opportunities for food webs to be restored and biodiversity losses to be reversed. Although rooted in ecology, the goal of rewilding is not to reach any human-defined point or state. Instead, it embraces natural complexity, resilience, and autonomy.
Learn about benefits of rewilding. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s land is degraded and 70 percent of wildlife populations have declined in recent decades. Rewilding aims to reverse these trends by restoring ecosystems to a natural state. Rewilding projects are occurring in seventy countries at a variety of scales. The concept of rewilding emerged in North America in the 1980s, with roots in conservation biology. Originally, it focused on establishing and protecting interconnected natural areas with the goal of giving keystone species, such as wolves, room to roam. However, this approach runs the risk of excluding local people, agricultural and forestry use, and Indigenous rights. Since then, the concept and practice of rewilding has expanded to be more inclusive, with an emphasis on traditional knowledge, reconnecting and rooting people to their landscapes. Benefits include:
- Helping wildlife adapt to the effects of climate change. Rewilding key habitats and connecting them with wildlife corridors and protected areas will allow wildlife to migrate and adapt as the effects of climate change amplify (see Wildlife Corridors Nexus).
- Reversing biodiversity loss. Reintroducing species in order to rewild ecosystems, such as the gray wolves to the Rockies, restores biodiversity in ecosystems (see Keystone Species Nexus). It also includes cultural practices. A number of Native American tribes are working together to expand the bison population, a culturally and ecologically significant species, in the United States and Canada,.
- Supporting natural processes. Rewilding is a path to reducing extractive pressures and removing infrastructure barriers to nature. This includes removing dams, lifting fishing pressure, or designating protected areas. In 2021, Portugal, Montenegro, and Slovakia recorded their first-ever dam removal.
- Restoring native habitats. Reestablishing native plants can help establish self-sustaining natural processes, such as pollination, food and shelter for wildlife, and greater filtration for nearby waterways. These test plots in Los Angeles have grown native plants in parks while generating positive effects for the community that manages them. Rewilding also means rewilding soil, which can increase and improve soil microbiome diversity.
- Alignment with traditional cultural practices. Rewilding projects must involve Indigenous practices and management, such as this cultural burning project in Tasmania, this Indigenous Sámi-led salmon rewilding project, or this example of the Skolt Sámi leading rewilding, both in Finland.
- Carbon sequestration. Rewilding advocates in the UK calculate that restoring and protecting native woodland, peatbogs, and species-rich grasslands over a total of 6 million hectares could sequester 47 million tons of CO2 per year.
- Impact at scale. The UN has listed rewilding as one of several methods needed to achieve large-scale restoration of natural systems, which they say must be accomplished by 2030 as part of the 30x30 campaign.
Rewild your home. Gardens and lawns can serve as wild spaces. There are many ways to rewild a lawn, but one of the easiest is by removing sod or adding compost and letting native plants grow.
- Try passive rewilding, which is allows nature to take its course, including letting leaves remain on the ground in the fall, growing native greenery in planters or window sills, and supporting bird life. Rewild My Street offers resources for individuals to adapt their homes, gardens, and streets to encourage wildlife.
- In Australia, Chris Wiley created habitat for the vulnerable black-breasted buttonquail when revegetating his property as a part of the Land for Wildlife program.
- Stop harmful activities, including the use of pesticides, artificial lawns, the use of single-use plastics, and the removal of native plants from an area.
- How to Rewild Your Lawn has helpful advice, as does this article on How to Rewild Your Garden.
- What we buy and consume can have an important impact in land-use practices. See Eating Plants Nexus, Grasslands Nexus, Agroforestry Nexus, and Agroecology Nexus.
Participate in rewilding activities locally. Many local organizations offer volunteer opportunities or community-led rewilding projects, such as this one in Australia that reclaimed a golf course where fish, turtles, and spoonbills now thrive. Here are some ways to get involved (see Organizations below for more):
- Support international projects, such as Project Swallowtail in Toronto growing pollinator habitat; a Peruvian Amazon restoration and forest connectivity project restoring 150 hectares with local and Indigenous communities; and this list of rewilding projects and local groups in Britain (see Beavers Nexus, Degraded Land Restoration Nexus, Pollinators Nexus, and Wetlands Nexus for more projects).
- Apply the principles of rewilding to yourself by getting closer to nature. Here is a 30-day Rewilding Challenge with outdoor activities.
- Join like-minded individuals to stay inspired, such as Salmon Nation, which aims to integrate people and places with a deep relationship with nature.
- Contribute to the science that helps support rewilding efforts. Rewilding Europe has a platform for citizen science to contribute to identifying animals in camera trap photos.
Advocate for Rewilding. Consider writing an op-ed, participating in advocacy, attending public forums, or financially supporting rewilding initiatives.
- These success stories of dam removal conclude with resources on how to get involved and what organizations to connect with.
- Identify abandoned lands that offer an opportunity for rewilding in your area and advocate for their rewilding. Aminata Calhoun of Philadelphia (U.S.) highlights how public concern for the safety of an abandoned lot turned it into a “community oasis” with greenery and gardens.
- Write an op-ed for your local newspaper about the benefits of rewilding. This opinion piece demonstrates how Seattle could benefit from rewilding.
- Join a rewilding organization that advances rewilding projects and ideas. Rewilding Global has a list of organizations that individuals can join.
- Sign local petitions on rewilding. This petition to the UK government received over a hundred thousand signatures. Re:wild has petitions and action letters globally to promote rewilding activities, save existing areas, or support local communities.
Attend training courses and immersive experiences on rewilding. Investing in environmental education or training can help you be informed about rewilding practices.
- Deepen your knowledge on key topics, such as wildlife populations, bioregions of the world, ecosystem restoration, or the value of wetlands through online courses that offer certificates.
- Many natural resource and wildlife divisions offer tours of their efforts, such as West Virginia’s Elk Reintroduction or a Romanian wildlife safari highlighting rewilding areas with bison, wolves, and bears.
- Attend a Rewilding Camp in partnership with the Ecosystem Restoration Camps (ERC). They offer a variety of other programs, including community rewilding and wellness days.
- Learn with the Rewilding Academy through free courses on urban rewilding, monitoring landscapes, and floodplains.
- The Rewilding School offers a Roots program for BIPOC participants to learn about ancestral skills, such as foraging, fire making, and shelter building.
Farmers and Other Landowners
Rewild your land to support biodiversity, increase profitability, and support connectivity between habitat patches. Agricultural rewilding can be implemented for landowners who wish to support a multifunctional system of livestock and natural landscapes. A well-known example is the Knepp Rewilding Estate, England’s first major rewilding project, which began as an unprofitable farm and now supports wildlife, grazing animals, and thriving soil communities.
- Start with this overview of the levels of production or rewilding intensity you can achieve with your land. Look at their cited funding opportunities and success stories.
- Carefully select herbivore livestock and manage grazing intensity that can promote rewilding. This study highlights the need for having grazing refuges for successful sapling establishment.
- Create wildlife corridors within and between landscapes (see Wildlife Corridors Nexus). This fact sheet provides insight into creating corridors. This review provides guidance on their continued management.
- Promote high crop diversity, allow for near-natural areas for habitats, and use fewer pesticides to support more natural ecosystems (see Regenerative Agriculture Nexus).
- Be inspired and inspire others. This story about how native jays in southern England planted what became a perfectly balanced, mature oak woodland on an abandoned farm, and this story of neighboring farmers in England working together to promote a rewilding “cluster.”
Promote development activities with rewilding in mind. Urban and city planners can ensure developments incorporate the principles of rewilding by preserving natural processes, such as waterways; creating urban natural areas; and planning for urban wildlife connectivity. The idea of urban rewilding is increasingly recognized.
- Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore was former industrial land that serves as an example of rewilding. Within the first two years of the effort, biodiversity increased by 30 percent with no reintroductions required.
- Hanover, Frankfurt, and Dessau, Germany, are setting aside plots to allow nature to take over as part of the Städte Wagen Wildnis ("Cities Venturing into Wilderness," or "Cities Dare Wilderness") project.
- The High Line in New York City is a 1.5-mile walkway supported by gardeners who work to facilitate natural processes in the landscape.
Integrate rewilding efforts into your business plans. Companies can contribute to rewilding by setting aside funds for rewilding projects and by partnering with organizations to help finance, scale, or provide in-kind resources.
- Rewilding Europe Capital is the first enterprise in Europe to offer loans to businesses that work toward rewilding and recovering landscapes.
- Companies can invest in nature-positive supply chains to move beyond minimizing damage. This could include investing in biodiversity monitoring to understand and reduce the supply-chain risk of factories and suppliers.
- Rewilding can put investment back into local economies, benefiting nature and communities. The SBI Foundation and Axis Bank Foundation in India supported the Balipara Foundation to launch a program to support habitat restoration, organic products, and ecotourism, while also creating income for local communities.
- Patagonia designates a percentage of sales to environmental protection. They have a Grants Council that has awarded funds for rewilding projects.
- Global Rewilding Alliance, Storopack x Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, and Re: wild are three examples of organizations that actively partner with companies in the region and globally to promote rewilding activities. Their efforts include creating a hub for project and partnership identification; developing Marine Nature Reserves across the British Isles; and creating a brand, fundraising, and marketing program to support rewilding efforts.
- A £2 million fund for the world’s first rewilding center offered donors the opportunity to invest in a bond, with investors receiving 6 percent gross interest per year.
Promote and fund initiatives that support rewilding. Global initiatives exist that support and promote rewilding efforts, including the recent signing of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) by 190 countries. Continued large-scale efforts will require the mobilization of funding.
- In 2021, the United Nations launched its Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and in 2020, a Global Charter for Rewilding the Earth was endorsed by over thirty NGOs across the globe advocating for rewilding to be prioritized in combating the climate crisis.
- Several funds exist in Europe to promote large-scale rewilding initiatives. The Rewilding Innovation Fund works to remove barriers to successful rewilding initiatives in Britain, and Rewilding Europe received a £4.1 million grant to scale their rewilding efforts.
- In England, farmers are incentivized to rewild their land in an effort to improve threatened species recovery. The first pilot projects are expected to total 10,000 hectares in the first two years alone.
- In Australia, the federal government is looking to reward landholders for adopting biodiversity stewardship practices on their landscapes, allowing for biodiversity protection and economic gain to work hand in hand.
Implement policies and legislative reforms that support rewilding. This could be through payment, such as in the form of tax credits, for services to rewild land.
- Adopting rewilding language into policies can reform legislation potential, such as restoring wild soil function via regenerative agriculture or protecting against shoreline erosion via mangrove restoration.
- The UK’s Environment Bill supports a variety of rewilding activities, including creating local nature recovery strategies, creating transparency and local consultation around the felling of trees, and investing in tree planting and peatland restoration.
Protect Indigenous rights in rewilding initiatives. Indigenous land rights and knowledge can be integrated into government actions to rewild land through meaningful engagement in project design, participatory workshops, and giving ownership back to Indigenous peoples.
- The Peruvian government has designated a 2.7-million-acre Yavarí Tapiche Indigenous Reserve in the Amazonian forest, protecting both the voluntary isolation and culture of the Indigenous peoples and one of the most biodiverse and vulnerable regions.
- Integrating Indigenous management and knowledge can increase the potential for success in environmental initiatives, as was the case for rewilding the Linnunsuo wetland, which invited traditional villagers to teach the local nonprofit about its wetland ecosystem and how to best care for it, inspiring projects across Finland and Scandinavia to do the same.
- The Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP), under the Philippine government, was undergoing the creation of a thirty-year plan to rewild the sites of the tamaraws (dwarf cattles). They hosted a workshop with the Mindoro’s Indigenous people to discuss the tamaraw recovery, their ancestral domain, and legal land rights, and they developed a new joint management plan.
- In Australia, nearly 88,000 hectares of land and water extraction rights were transferred to the Nari Nari Tribal Council to own and manage. It is known as one of the largest land-for-conservation deals and has promoted species recovery of birds, kangaroos, emus, and snakes.
Rewilding Institute (North America)
Re: wild (global)
Rewilding Europe (Europe)
Conservación Patagonica (South America)
Trees for Life (Scotland)
Global Rewilding Alliance (global)
ARK Nature Foundation (Netherlands)
Balipara Foundation (India)
SUGi Project (global)
Pūniu River Care (New Zealand)
Rewilding Argentina Foundation (Argentina)
Rewilding Britain (UK)
The Scottish Rewilding Alliance (Scotland)
Snowchange Cooperative (global, Indigenous Nations, Arctic/Finland)
Rewild Portland (United States)
Last Wild Places: Rewilding the Americas (74 mins.)
For More Wonder, Rewild the World (15 mins.)
Rewilding Ibera (28 mins.)
What Does Rewilding Look Like? (8 mins.)
The Extreme Rewilding of Chernobyl (8 mins.)
Rewilding Made Simple: An Animated Guide (3 mins.)
Rewilding the Northeast (11 mins.)
Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm by Isabella Tree
Rewilding, edited by Nathalie Pettorelli, Sarah Durant, and Johan T. du Toit
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding by George Monbiot
Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution by Caroline Fraser
Rewild Your Garden: Create a Haven for Birds, Bees and Butterflies by Frances Tophill
Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery by Cain Blythe and Paul Jepson
Becoming Wild by Carl Safina
The Once and Future World by J. B. MacKinnon
Managing the Wild: Stories of People and Plants and Tropical Forests by Charles W. Peters
Voices of Rewilding: Indigenous Perspectives (HealthyLife.Net)
The Eco Side Podcast by Mossy Earth
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