The need for an evidence-led approach to rewilding

O'Connell, Mark ORCID: 0000-0003-3402-8880 and Prudhomme, C.T. (2024) The need for an evidence-led approach to rewilding. Journal for Nature Conservation, 79. Art 126609. doi:10.1016/j.jnc.2024.126609

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This paper characterises current rewilding activities in the UK, through the analysis of 66 rewilding projects. Project information was obtained from online data (65 %), and direct mail data requests (35 %). The analyses showed an exponential growth in the number of new rewilding projects since 2010, with 8 % of projects started prior to 2000, and 60 % initiated after 2010. Seventy-three percent of projects involved rewilding areas of less than 1000 ha, 17 % being between 1000 and 10,000 ha, and 9 % greater than 10,000 ha. In Scotland, 80 % of the area being rewilded involved mountain, heath and bog habitats. For England the largest rewilded areas (58 %) were semi-natural or improved grasslands. Fifty-six percent of sites were formerly used for livestock farming, and 24 % for arable cultivation. A total of 72 % of sites employed tree planting, 64 % introduced herbivores, and 33 % introduced non-herbivores. The removal of sheep and cattle took place in 51 % of projects, with deer control in 33 %, wetland creation in 39 %, and the removal of artificial drainage in 36 % of projects. There was a close geographical proximity between rewilding sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with 69 % of areas being within 4 km, and only two sites greater than 8 km. Twelve project funding sources were recorded, and most projects utilised multiple funding sources. The benefits of an evidence-led and nationally co-ordinated rewilding approach were identified in relation to using well-established decision tools and frameworks to enhance future rewilding spatial planning. This would allow the development of a map of ‘appropriate’ rewilding areas, based on landscape scale characteristics, national species and habitat priorities, and predicted future landscape changes. Importantly, these ‘target’ areas would also be sensitive to local social, economic and agricultural contexts.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rewilding; United Kingdom
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General) > S589.75 Agriculture and the environment
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2024 12:33
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 08:30

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