Rewilding prospects for reconciling biodiversity restoration and human well-being
Convened by: Néstor Fernández, Andrea Perino
The ceaseless degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem functions by human activities urge conservation biologists to propose innovative and radical solutions, extending conservation goals from those largely driven by the area-protection paradigm by also seeking opportunities for large-scale restoration of degraded land. In this context, rewilding has emerged as an audacious restoration approach aimed at recovering biodiverse and functional ecosystems through reversing defaunation. Pragmatic views of rewilding advocate for explicitly recognizing and accounting for the costs and conflicts inherent to any rewilding initiative, while taking advantage of the opportunities provided by changes in land-use systems already in place1. For example, societal changes in Europe, and specifically rural land abandonment, have been seen as a unique opportunity for turning large areas of formerly agricultural land into rewilding areas where natural recolonization and succession processes should be favoured in agreement with new socio-economic opportunities2. Furthermore, the strong emotional value associated to the notion of rewilding has been seen as an opportunity to reconnect people to nature, as well as to foster new nature-based business models and investment facilities3.
This symposium explores the opportunities that rewilding can provide for stimulating the biodiversity restoration agenda in Europe while reconnecting people with nature and providing novel socio-economic opportunities. It brings together biodiversity scientists, social scientists and practitioners discussing the multiple ramifications of an advocacy for rewilding. These include ecological and conservation benefits, social perceptions on biodiversity and human wellbeing, economic opportunities, and the policy context. Finally, a discussion will be stimulated on the synergies between an advocacy for rewilding and a post-2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy reinforcing restoration targets for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
1 Fernández, N., Navarro, L. M., & Pereira, H. M. (2017). Rewilding: A Call for Boosting Ecological Complexity in Conservation. Conservation Letters, 10(3), 276-278.
2 Pereira, H. M., & Navarro, L. M. (Eds.). (2015). Rewilding european landscapes. New York: Springer.