The concept of rewilding is relatively new, and whilst it offers great potential for reinvigorating conservation, it is currently defined and approached in a number of different ways. This is limiting the application of rewilding for ecological conservation and functional restoration. In recognition of this, the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) has tasked this group with developing a conceptual and methodological framework for rewilding, within a framework of other ecosystem management concepts, including Cultural Practices, Nature-based Solutions, Ecosystem-based Adaptation, Ecosystem Governance, Ecosystem Resilience and Protected Areas Management.
The task force’s goal is to synthesise and streamline the theory and practice of rewilding through a sharing of experience within the wider (and growing) rewilding community. The aim is to develop a more unified and cohesive rewilding approach that is both science-based and community-focused. The task force will explore ecological restoration in terms of a wildness continuum approach with an outcome of becoming increasingly ‘nature-led’. It will move beyond a simple structural biodiversity approach to ecosystems and instead recognise the dynamic nature of the biodiversity of biological processes.
The task force comprises a core expert group that will act as the task-based delivery team. Prof. Ian Convery of the University of Cumbria was appointed Chair of the task force at its establishment meeting. The composition of this team is being finalised to ensure balance.
One of our first tasks is to establish an expert panel, comprising academics, commentators and practitioners all of whom are pioneers in the rewilding movement. This is an important first step in terms of better understanding the history and trajectory of rewilding, but we are also keen to tap into ‘youthful enthusiasm’ for rewilding; we have seen this first hand with our work on various conservation projects, and for many young people rewilding will have always have been part of their terminology. We will work with our network of universities, colleges and schools to explore this in greater detail.
The Task Force will begin a systematic literature review on rewilding that on completion will be used to identify gaps in knowledge. Based on this analysis, a working definition of rewilding will be established, and the task force will invite submissions of evidence from where it believes the gaps in knowledge are held. The task force will be looking for citizen science where this is available, especially where there may be evidence that is not formally published. A systematic Review paper on the concept of rewilding will be produced, and which will form the basis of a Workshop event to review progress.