The Ecological Citizen

A free-to-access publication confronting human supremacy in defence of the Earth



What is rewilding? (A definition)


Rewilding is a practice-focused subdiscipline of conservation biology. Advocate John Davis has described it succinctly as: "giving the land back to wildlife, and wildlife back to the land." This a positive and exciting vision that promises a much fairer distribution of the Earth between species rather than one heavily skewed towards modern humans.

At a local scale, the main features of rewilding include: one, the ceasing or easing of human management; two, the removal of infrastructure such as dams; and, three, the reintroduction of extirpated organisms (those lost from an area owing to human actions), including large herbivores and carnivores, or the introduction of organisms considered to be their ecological analogues. Here, the objective is to enable localities that have been simplified by human management to become, over time, more ecologically complex, richer in ecological processes, and less depauperate. A crucial dynamic within this is the knock-on impact of reintroduced (or introduced) organisms in creating and maintaining niches for a suite of other species.

At a broader geographical scale (up to that of entire large continents), the overarching goal of rewilding is to allow a rich diversity of wildlife to coexist with modern humans on the Earth in the long term. Its fundamental facets have been referred to as the three C's: cores, corridors, and carnivores. Cores are large protected areas with limited influence from modern humans, while corridors are passages that connect such areas, enabling long-distance movement (including migrations) and facilitating genetic flow between populations within a species. And the inclusion of carnivores among the fundamental facets emphasizes the vital importance of such species in thriving ecosystems, especially apex predators (those at the top of intact food chains).



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