A Bangor University expert, Dr Sophie Wynne-Jones, has contributed her considerable expertise to new international policy guidelines on rewilding.
Rewilding is a nature-led approach to conservation, which involves giving more space to nature, repairing damaged habitats and restoring lost wildlife, whilst minimising human influence to promote natural processes. It is championed as a proactive way to address our global environmental crises, not just protecting existing wildlife but giving nature more freedom and room to flourish – learning from nature rather than trying to micro-manage it.
Whilst rewilding has become increasingly popular, it is still very novel and sometimes contested. A set of guidelines to support governments and conservationists has, therefore, been much called for. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Rewilding Taskforce have been working on this challenge over the last two years undertaking extensive international research and consultation amongst leading rewilding practitioners and experts. The resulting ‘Guiding Principles for Rewilding’ have recently been published in Conservation Biology [17.3.21].
Contributing author, Dr Sophie Wynne Jones’ research considers the social dimensions of rewilding, which are a critical aspect of the guidelines developed. Her research in Wales has been central to the insights she puts forward in the report. She explains: “We are facing major challenges and, globally, need to change our attitudes towards the natural world. In order to do this successfully, we need principles to guide international efforts to restore the world’s ecosystems. Rewilding is an exciting approach, it changes the emphasis of conservation from defending what we have to thinking bigger and being more ambitious. We need to look beyond nature reserves and special sites to create more space for nature and the natural processes which we all need to survive on this planet. But if we are to embrace rewilding, we need to include all those who will be affected by the proposed changes. In my own work in Wales I have explored the concerns of the farming community, including the livelihood and the cultural impacts of rewilding.”