Rewilding examples

Rewilding Projects

Rewilding can take many forms. Below are some examples of large-scale and well-known rewilding projects. We encourage you to explore these and hope that you can see the exciting possibilities rewilding embraces.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, USA, is known as the world’s first national park. Originally designated due to its rare hot springs in 1872, Yellowstone park was also created for “the benefit and enjoyment of the people”. Yellowstone now provides a unique opportunity to study the impacts of ecological restoration at an ecosystem scale. In particular, the reintroduction of the Grey wolf in 1995 has led to a cascade of effects throughout the trophic levels, ultimately increasing the biodiversity. The park now boasts a diverse range of species and habitats, such as alpine forests and mountain meadows. Other examples of the impressive list of fauna that can be found include the Grizzly bear, Canada lynx, the Black-footed ferret and Pika. While intervention in the park is kept to a minimum, Native American people have been recorded in the area as far back as 11,000 years ago and Yellowstone is now managed by the National Park Service in the USA. The park is an asset not only to local communities and local wildlife but also to the wider conservation community as a source of inspiration and scientific gains in understanding the interconnectedness of the web of life.

Oostvaardersplassen

Oostvaardersplassen was created when land was drained in 1968 with the intention for it to be maintained as an industrial zone, however a chain of events led to what is now an internationally significant area of wetland and designated RAMSAR site. The project has proven controversial in its approach to management by encouraging minimal intervention with the intent to let nature express itself freely. The reserve spans 22 square miles and contains herds of Heck cattle, Konik ponies and Red deer alongside significant breeding populations of the Great white egret, the Common spoonbill and the Bearded tit. The grazers are used to create a mosaic of habitats, encouraging structural diversity within plant communities and surrounding wetland. It is an important stop on many birds’ migration route and is a designated Special Protected Area (SPA) under the Natura 2000 network. The reserve was integrated into the Nieuw Land National Park in 2018 and is managed by the State Forestry Service.

Knepp Wildland Project

Located in Horsham, West Sussex, Knepp Estate was once intensively farmed. In 2000, husband and wife duo Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree dramatically changed course and began to rewild their 3,500 acres of land in a pioneering project that has opened the discussion on rewilding in the UK. Isabella Tree released a book, ‘Wilding’, in 2018 which documents their process and the challenges and successes of their project. The Knepp Wildland Project has created a refuge for wildlife in a still intensively managed landscape and is now an important breeding spot for many rare species in the UK such as the Turtle dove and Purple emperor butterflies. An advisory board packed with experts in their fields, such as  Sir John Lawton and Alistair Driver, help to guide the project which is already recognised within the Rewilding Europe network. Knepp has created an enterprise within the rewilded estate and provides an example of the benefits communities can reap from a balanced and respectful relationship between people and nature.