Rewilding is the new Pandora’s box in conservation – University of Copenhagen

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09 March 2016

Rewilding is the new Pandora’s box in conservation

Published i Current Biology by David Nogués-Bravo, Carsten Rahbek, Nathan James and co-authors.

Rewilding — the proposed restoration of ecosystems through the (re-)introduction
of species — is seen by many as a way to stem the loss of biodiversity and the
functions and services that biodiversity provides to humanity. In addition, rewilding
might lead to increased public engagement and enthusiasm for biodiversity. But
what exactly is rewilding, and is it based on sound ecological understanding?
Here, we show that there is a worrying lack of consensus about what rewilding is
and what it isn’t, which jeopardizes a clearer account of rewilding’s aims, benefi ts
and potential consequences. We also point out that scientifi c support for the main
ecological assumptions behind rewilding, such as top-down control of ecosystems,
is limited. Moreover, ecological systems are dynamic and ever-evolving, which makes
it challenging to predict the consequences of introducing novel species. We also
present examples of introductions or re-introductions that have failed, provoking
unexpected negative consequences, and highlight that the control and extirpation of
individuals of failed translocations has been shown to be extremely challenging and
economically costly. Some of rewilding’s loudest proponents might argue that we are
advocating doing nothing instead, but we are not; we are only advocating caution
and an increased understanding and awareness of what is unknown about rewilding,
and what its potential outputs, especially ecological consequences, might be.

Link to article

Read the press release in New Scientist

Watch professor David Nogéz-Bravo commenting on the subjet here (2min 30)