Bringing Back the Wild: Europe’s Bold Mission to Rewild its Ecosystems

Bringing Back the Wild: Europe’s Bold Mission to Rewild its Ecosystems

Bringing Back the Wild: Europe’s Bold Mission to Rewild its Ecosystems


Europe, with its rich history and diverse landscapes, is now embracing a bold mission to rewild its ecosystems. Rewilding, a conservation approach that aims to restore and protect natural processes and wilderness areas, is gaining momentum across the continent. This movement to bring back the wild is a testament to Europe’s commitment to tackle biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems, and create a healthier planet for future generations.

What is Rewilding?

Rewilding goes beyond conventional conservation efforts by focusing on restoring the full range of species and ecological processes that were once present in an area. It involves reintroducing keystone species, removing human disturbances, and promoting natural ecosystem dynamics. The goal is to create self-sustaining and resilient ecosystems that can withstand environmental challenges and provide habitat for a diverse array of flora and fauna.

European Rewilding Initiatives

Europe is home to several inspiring rewilding initiatives that are making a considerable impact on restoring the continent’s ecosystems:

1. Oostvaardersplassen, Netherlands

Oostvaardersplassen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands, is a living example of successful rewilding. Since the 1980s, large herbivores like Konik horses and red deer have been reintroduced, creating a dynamic landscape with grazing animals shaping the vegetation and promoting biodiversity. Oostvaardersplassen showcases how rewilding can revive ecosystems and foster a balance between humans and nature.

2. Velebit Mountains, Croatia

The Velebit Mountains in Croatia are renowned for their rewilding success story. After decades of intense hunting, the return of large carnivores like bears, wolves, and lynx has sparked a cascade of ecological benefits. These predators have controlled herbivore populations, leading to forest regeneration and a recovery of plant and animal species. The Velebit Mountains exemplify the potential of rewilding to restore natural processes and increase biodiversity.

3. Knepp Estate, United Kingdom

The rewilding project at Knepp Estate in the United Kingdom is another remarkable example. By transforming a former intensive farmland into a nature reserve, Knepp Estate has seen the return of numerous species, including long-lost ones like turtle doves and purple emperors. The land now thrives with free-roaming herbivores and natural watercourses, providing vital habitats for a wide range of wildlife.

The Benefits of Rewilding

Rewilding offers numerous benefits that go beyond conservation alone. Some of the key advantages include:

1. Biodiversity Conservation

By restoring ecosystems and reintroducing keystone species, rewilding helps preserve and enhance biodiversity. This supports the survival of endangered animal and plant species, contributes to ecosystem resilience, and safeguards genetic diversity for future adaptations.

2. Ecological Restoration

Rewilding aids in the restoration of ecological processes, such as nutrient cycling, pollination, and seed dispersal. This leads to healthier ecosystems, improved soil fertility, and enhanced resistance to climate change. Ecological restoration also benefits human well-being, as it provides cleaner air and water, natural spaces for recreation, and a sense of connection to nature.

3. Climate Change Mitigation

Restored and rewilded ecosystems act as powerful carbon sinks, absorbing and storing large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Forests, wetlands, and peatlands play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Rewilding contributes to these efforts by promoting the growth and preservation of these natural carbon stores.


Europe’s mission to rewild its ecosystems demonstrates a dedication to environmental conservation and sustainable practices. Through rewilding initiatives across the continent, Europe is leading the way in restoring natural processes, enhancing biodiversity, and creating harmonious landscapes where humans and wildlife coexist. By embracing rewilding, Europe is shaping a more resilient and ecologically vibrant future for itself and the entire planet.

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