A challenge to Rewilding Britain


I don’t seem to have been able to get away from the r-word these last few months. I met up with a TV crew towards the end of May that were filming a one-hour TV documentary on “Rewilding” for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's science and nature series, "The Nature of Things with David Suzuki". They had been to the Oostvardersplassen (OVP) in the Netherlands with Frans Vera, to a private reserve in Portugal with Rewilding Europe, and then to Oxford to see George Monbiot and Jamie Lorrimer. The latter is a cultural geographer who has feasted on setting up the OVP and its Heck cattle as a straw man for rewilding, a sample of rhetoric from one of his papers – “In this paper we have concentrated on frictions in the ontological politics at the interfaces between rewilding and other modes of bovine biopolitics(1) explaining why the sound recordist had great difficulty in understanding what he was saying. The TV crew had chosen a prime area of upland ecological devastation from sheep farming to interview me, my perpetual role in these things being to offer a critique of the OVP, Vera, and Rewilding Europe – because few else do on an ecological basis. The producer was very well informed, and asked the right questions. If only a TV company in Britain would make a similar documentary. Perhaps you have to be on the outside of Europe, looking in, and thus away from the influence of the cultural hegemony of its landscapes, to have been able to see the logical fallacies behind the OVP and the aims of the spectacularly miss-named Rewilding Europe.

We talked about the ecological illiteracy that is represented by the experiment at the OVP, and how it is a shifting sand of misrepresentation and justification by Vera, who shrugs off the high, year on year death rate of the deer, cattle and horses from starvation – about 8,000 over the period 2005-2013 - arising because of the fencing around the OVP that prevents them from migrating to find new food sources (2,3,4). Vera’s slippery excuse to the TV crew had been that there were instances in nature where herbivores were unable to disperse because of topographical and other barriers, a bit of a reach when the incidence of this is likely to be low in mainland areas (as averse to islands) and certainly could not be said about the flat polder of the reclaimed land that is the OVP. It is a distraction anyway since the barriers to movement that could exist in a wild landscape would not selectively allow the predators to leave while retaining the herbivores, but then there are no large carnivores in the OVP, an incompleteness that invalidates any representation of it being illustrative of natural processes.

As it is, the increasing mass starvation in the late 1990s led to guidelines for large herbivores at the OVP and other reserves in the Netherlands being drawn up in 2000 by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture (5). These guidelines were followed by advice from the Scientific Advisory committee of the State forestry service, which manages the OVP, for a strategy to cull animals in poor condition at the end of winter in a regime that was intended to simulate predation (6). It began on a trial basis in December 2003, and a revised “predator model” was implemented in November 2004. However, the carnage during the cold winter of 2004-2005 led to the call for establishment of an international committee to assess management of the OVP (7) the committee’s report taking the view that the culling did not realistically simulate predation, and should not be referred to as a predator model (8). Its recommendation was a policy of reactive culling of those unlikely to survive, to minimize unnecessary suffering of animals from starvation, a change in approach that required culling at an earlier stage of degeneration. In 2010, a prolonged cold winter intensified starvation, more animals died, and substantial numbers had to be culled. Supplementary feeding was carried out and a second commission was installed to evaluate again the management policy of the large herbivores in the OVP (9).

The very high mortality is more than an animal rights issue, it is an ecological disaster on the back of an experiment, an experiment that doesn’t even support Vera’s claim in his theory about the role of spikey saum and mantle vegetation in woodland development in Europe. Thus one study has used aerial photographs from eight different years over the period 1980 to 2011, to measure the development of willows and elderberry, finding that regeneration of woody species occurred at the low herbivore densities that existed after the initial releases into the OVP (10). However, bark stripping turned the 30% woody vegetation cover into just grassland after 1996, when the densities of large herbivores massively increased, and no new establishments were visible on aerial photographs outside of ungrazed control sites. While today hawthorn occasionally seeds in from nearby sources outside OVP, none survives the winter when grazing is at its most intense. Even transplanting saplings of pioneers (willow and elderberry) and hardwood species (oak and ash) along with spiny shrubs (dog rose and hawthorn) in a replica of Vera’s theory failed to prevent their complete grazing off in the face of such high herbivore pressure in the OVP, whereas establishment of the various woody species were found in an ungrazed control site (11).

Interesting, isn’t it? Vera asserts in his theory that tree establishment in his wood pasture systems only proceeds through protection from grazing by spiny shrubs, even when this is shown not to be the case at the OVP, but refuses to acknowledge a similar role for carnivores in this protection of tree establishment through density and behaviourally mediated trophic cascades (12). If you think about, Vera retrofitted his wood pasture theory around his vision of what he thought the OVP was, even though his experiment gave no evidence for it, and the literature shows an overwhelming lack of support for it after he published his belated PhD (13). His espousal of shifting base line syndrome in support of his theory is inexplicable (14) as are the shifting sands of misrepresentation and justification when challenged, especially his disregarding of carnivores and his lack of research and documentation of the OVP (2,15). I hold Vera responsible for unleashing a reactionary complacency to the real ecological issues of wild land, giving comfort to those who continually compromise wild nature through the dogma of mainstream conservation that is obsessed with livestock grazing (2).

Their rewilding is based on one strategy, the appliance of herbivory

I also discussed Rewilding Europe (RE) with the producer, its concentration on “abandoned” farmland (16), such as the Côa River valley in Portugal where they had visited, and where agriculture has declined. The Associação Transumância e Natureza (ATN) has bought up land there for a private reserve (17). The claim by RE is that by including this reserve, Faia Brava, in their “Rewilding Herbivore Programme” (18) they will be “bringing back lost wildlife” (19). The RE program “started with wild living horses of an ancient Portuguese race, to see the effect on the landscape. We can see with our own eyes the difference in vegetation inside and outside the horse fence. Inside, much more open area and grassland. Outside, only dense bush” (19). Since then, Marones cattle have been introduced, also behind fencing (20). RE throws in “protecting the already existing precious locally breeding wildlife: the Bonelli’s eagle, the golden eagle, griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, eagle owl etc. And taking care of the cultural heritage sites in the reserve as well” (18). As if their activities had anything to do with that bird life, but then there is a large element of the spectacle in what RE hopes to achieve, and the Iberian approach to wildlife tourism opportunities for observing wolves (21) and vultures at bait-stations very much fits with REs philosophy – “ATN also feeds the vultures with road kills and dead livestock animals, at a special feeding place where photographers and others who want to can watch the feeding vultures from inside a hide” (16).

In a nutshell, this is REs all-encompassing rhetoric, and which is based on an ideology that sees the cultural landscapes of farmed land as being the true state of nature. Thus their rewilding is based on one strategy, the appliance of herbivory – almost entirely domestic livestock - and the open landscapes they create – “We don’t have a detailed, specific end goal for nature in Faia Brava, it’s really rather the process of regeneration and rewilding. We would like a more natural number of trees and more of the original herbivore species and ATN is working on that’’ (16). What is a more natural number of trees?

In none of this is true ecological restoration taking place – where is the assistance in the recapture of species lost due to simplification of ecology from agriculture? The decline of farming in the Côa River valley may at least have allowed for the return of vegetation species that were lost from the valley due to farming, if there were sources local enough for their return, but RE is now reversing that return. In our sheep degraded uplands, these species are long lost from that landscape, the extensive area of the degradation meaning that there are few refuge sources so that they need to be reinstated. And yet, given the opportunity, all RE would do here would be to maintain a grazing pressure similar to the sheep, but use heritage cattle and horses. I explained to the TV crew why our devastated uplands in national parks are so different to anywhere else, especially compared to National Parks in Canada, and how they just attract the harvesting of agri-environment funding subsidy for a continuance of livestock grazing, rather than fulfill the aspiration in the Edwards report on National Parks from 1991 where there was a recommendation for wilder land, “where farming is withdrawn entirely and the natural succession of vegetation is allowed to take its course” (22).

I could also have told the TV crew about the nasty side of RE, the bullying of my associates at the World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca (23). I have never seen my colleague Steve more agitated than when he returned from the closing event of the Congress after having been ambushed by the two leading bruisers in RE and told that he had to control me and my criticism of RE. I subsequently found out that other associates from across Europe were similarly ambushed at the Congress and told to distance themselves from me. A month after Salamanca, I took George Monbiot for an early morning walk up the rocky Backstone Beck on Ilkley Moor – he had also been at the World Wilderness Congress. As we waited in the car park near the Cow and Calf rocks for the sun to rise, Monbiot asked me if I would ever accept the presence of RE in Britain. You can guess my answer.

Personalities aside, it is because of the above analysis of OVP, Vera and of RE, and their antipathy to true ecological restoration, that I think the word rewilding has been made toxic by their actions having monopolised a definition of it. This monopolising is the case with all of the European megaherbivore mafia who have, in cavalier fashion, made rewilding synonymous with the continuance or reinstatement of herbivore pressure. Thus in his endless quest to expand the influence of reinstated herbivores - in this case horses - Svenning, a leading mafia (24) used “species distribution modelling combined with habitat information and past and present distributions of equid species to identify areas suitable for rewilding with E. ferus (25). I question what he was modelling, since he took the natural habitat selection preferences to be that of what he dubbed feral and semi-feral herds of horses across Europe. Let’s be clear, there are no truly wild horses left in the world (26) and to base a habitat model on the likes of Exmoor ponies seems more than suspect, considering the ecological devastation of Exmoor, but then maybe that moor is an artificial approximation of the Steppe habitat that the wild horse used to inhabit. It raises the issue of whether the true natural habitat selection preferences - the life-history requirement of the needs to acquire food, find mates, rear offspring, defend limited resources and avoid predators (27) - can ever be expressed by a domesticated animal, long selected and bred as they have been to suit the habitat conditions and simpler needs under which we want to maintain them. It also makes the alleged de-domestication from free-ranging – but behind fences – a delusion that is also often the advocacy of these rewilders (28).

Svenning’s logic in justifying the study ran along these lines – “Reintroduction of extirpated species or functional types of high ecological importance to restore self-managing functional, biodiverse ecosystems (rewilding) is increasingly being discussed and implemented” followed by “Rewilding emphasises species reintroductions to restore ecological function, and E.ferus is clearly relevant in this perspective” and “Ideally, rewilding introductions should produce populations able to maintain themselves without human intervention”. Not once is there mention of any natural predation of the reintroduced horses, but there is the bland assertion, without any qualification, that 800-1000 horses “live without intervention” in the OVP. So, shooting of obviously dieing horses during winter is not human intervention (see earlier)? This wouldn’t be a reintroduction anyway, but an imposition of a “functional type”, so how much of an ecological function does a domesticated horse restore? As I have noted before, the rewilders have appropriated terms like ecological restoration and ecological processes (23) but it is unclear, when this is professed, as to whether a complete system is being considered, where every trophic level is represented (an example being (29)) because it is insufficient just to restore just one process, one trophic level as Svenning as a typical rewilder is advocating. Nor is there much mileage in his imposition of “ecological replacements” (29) another way of saying Svenning’s “functional type”, since national legislation in Britain (30) and in all likelihood across Europe as well, will prohibit the release to free-living of non-native mammal species, condemning them to a life behind fencing, as is the case in the experiment at the OVP. You could argue that fencing is an acknowledgement that we are failing to successfully coexist with and conserve wild nature, but more importantly, as is shown by the OVP, fencing creates a spatial restraint that is likely to lead to the biological needs of animals not being met, and which ties us to an intervention for population regulation and limitation (31) which is again the case at the OVP, the high mortality met with reactive culling. Fencing also cuts across the natural instincts for habitat selection of truly wild animals, as shown by study examining the effect of fences on the movement patterns of the African elephant in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa (32). The reduced use of areas near the fence and more intensive foraging in the central areas, despite there being no difference in habitat composition between these areas, showed an edge effect that could potentially cascade throughout the reserve, adversely altering vegetative processes.

Restoration of completely functional ecological systems, at all trophic levels

There are endless articles appearing in journals about the historical emergence of the term rewilding and how it is interpreted now (e.g. 29,33,34,35). The original definition of rewilding was anchored in a North American approach to the reintroduction of carnivores into cores and corridors (36). However, the sheer volume of the deafening noise of the European megaherbivore mafia and their suck-ups in the last 15 years, was not matched with sufficient countering that there had to be restoration of completely functional ecological systems, at all trophic levels, and not just with herbivores. There is only one of those recent articles on rewilding that obliquely recognises this, the application of scenario planning and three horizons analysis” revealed the need to restore “at least three processes…to reinvigorate natural woodland regeneration” of Caledonian pine forest, these being seed production, a disturbance regime (the rooting behaviour of wild boar) and the top-down control of the large herbivore guild (because of red deer and their browsing holding back regeneration (34). But it is more than just a reinstatement of trophic levels and associated processes, because it would then be wild nature’s experiment as we stand back and it became self-willed, rather than a rewilding experiment of limited scope that suited the convenience and purpose of its perpetrators.

I must take some of the blame for the disastrous erosion of the meaning of rewilding and the consequences it has for wild nature. I doubt that my persevering with the Wildland Network (37) would have got it to formulate let alone commit to a wildland policy. Out of sheer frustration, in 2007, I circulated around the WN Co-ordinating Group a selectively extracted version of New Zealand’s Wilderness Policy from 1985 (38) as a potential wildland policy that we could adopt, having first removed references to wilderness and replacing them with wildland, and taking out anything that would obviously identify its New Zealand origin. It was a subterfuge to get around the stultifying paralysis that ensued whenever we had tried to develop such a policy from scratch, and I wondered whether any of them would recognise it for what it was. I needn’t have bothered, because it met with the usual reaction of mixed and competing messages destroying any clarity, and the inappropriate addition of cultural encumbrances, even before I revealed my subterfuge, and then the dead hand of those who just did not want to commit, so that it came to nothing. The void in policy formulation for wildland and rewilding in Britain, along with a strong advocacy role, was just not going to be filled by WN, and so I left.

An opportunity then arose during the week that we set up the Wildland Research Institute (WRi) in October 2009 (39) when Hilary Benn, Secretary of State at DEFRA and a Leeds MP, came to the University to give a talk in the School of Geography Seminar Series. Identifying myself as a member of WRi, I asked Benn whether he had a definition for rewilding, and if DEFRA had any policies on rewilding. My opening in asking him this was that the r-word had been used twice by Benn in a press release that DEFRA had put out in relation to the launch the previous month of a review of England's diversity and ecological networks – “Re-wilding, and linking together areas to make ecological corridors and a connected network, could have real benefits in allowing nature to thrive. The review team – to be announced shortly – will also look to see what benefits could be gained by connecting sites within designated areas and outside them through re-wilding initiatives” (40).

Benn's preamble to his response to me was that the review was prompted by a need to make better use of the national parks, National Nature Reserves and other reserves, such as those that the wildlife trusts had created, by connecting them up together through ecological corridors. He pointed to the imminent setting up of the review team under John Lawton, which would consider how that connectivity could happen. He didn't have a definition or policies for rewilding, but he did say I could send along to him anything I had to contribute. In seeking support and assistance with this from colleagues, I proposed not to delay too long in getting something to Benn, that it didn’t have to be a long document, needing instead to be sharp and to the point, but also fresh and forward looking! If only I had taken my own advice, because working to an outline structure for the brief, I identified the importance of the “regulatory roles of large predators in driving landscapes with a natural range of variation” in the cores, corridors and carnivores approach to rewilding of Soule and Noss (see above) the “structure, resilience, and diversity of ecosystems being maintained by ecological (trophic) interactions that are initiated by top predators”. But then I got bogged down in too much detail about examples of connectivity on a large scale and the development of the ecological network concept in Europe, so that I ran out of the will to finish the brief. Looking back at it now, and seeing again the few perfunctory paragraphs on rewilding that were in Making Space for Nature, the Lawton report (41) I wish I had just forwarded these opening paragraphs from the brief, on The need for rewilding:
“The WRi take as a working definition that rewilding is the restoration of fundamental ecological processes with which our native biota has evolved and to which it is best adapted. The need for rewilding arises because our natural resource management has been concentrated on controlling wild nature so that we may harvest its products, reduce the threats from wild nature to that harvest, and create outcomes with greater reliability such that they are of prime benefit to humanity. The inevitable result of this holding back of wild nature is a reduction in the range of natural variation of systems in their structure and ecological function.

We have eliminated the larger predators, supplanting their role with ourselves. In doing so, we have replaced the natural ecological controls that existed with engineered constructs and interventions that require persistent involvement if they are to be maintained in our chosen system of resource management. The fragmentation of native vegetation in our landscapes has also led to a loss of their ecological connectivity, reducing many species to small isolated populations that are under continual pressure. The UK has few if any ecosystems with a natural range of variation, and most landscape management is of the 'command and control' resource management that comes from cultural use or targeted species conservation. Genuinely resilient ecological networks will need the adoption of a re-wilding approach to create ecosystems with a natural range of variation”

An augury for the fate of Rewilding Britain

The launch of Rewilding Britain (RB) a couple of weeks ago (42) brought forth a storm of criticism from mostly Scottish organisations, such as the Scottish Crofting Federation (43) and the National Farmers Union Scotland (44, 45) as well as a rebuttal article from a sheep farmer in Cumbria to the description of the Lake District by George Monbiot as being sheepwrecked“The Lake District has not been “wrecked” by sheep and farmers, it has been created by them, through generations of hard work and often for very little reward” (46). By chance, a couple of days after I got the press release in advance of the launch, I had stumbled over the minutes of a Board meeting of Natural England from last April where it had discussed a paper on Conservation Strategy (47). While recognising that a strategy “should not rule out options”, the Board advised that “reference to ‘re-wilding’ was potentially unhelpful”. Board meetings of Unnatural England have always been a pleasure ground of reactionary forces, but I did wonder whether this was an augury for the fate of RB, good or bad. I circulated it around the group of people who have been shepherding the formation of the charity. If I was a bit peeved that WRi was not acknowledged amongst one of the supporting founders of RB in the press release, then this omission got its comeuppance when Gordon Davidson, News Editor of The Scottish Farmer, fact-checked the press release (48):
“In an early setback for Rewilding Britain, its initial claim to have been founded with the backing of the Cairngorms National Park Authority was quickly corrected, with the CNPA issuing its own statement to categorically deny that association……And the claim that RB had Forestry Commission backing received similar short shrift from FC Scotland”

The press release listed bison amongst the species that RB sought to restore, and this was picked up by newspapers (43,44,45,48) and subsequently appeared on the RB website (49) but it was not amongst Monbiot’s list of 15 species for restoration that accompanied his article on the launch of RB (50). It was a year ago that I raised with Monbiot the inclusion of bison in a proposal document that was being used with prospective funders for RB, because they are very unlikely to be considered for release to free living in Britain as they will not be returning to a former natural range (26). The inclusion of bison therefore risked RB looking foolish. I am always prepared to review new evidence, and there was a comment on the species list article that suggested that human hunting could have prevented the return of species to Britain’s post-glacial ecosystem before the loss of the land bridge, but why were aurochs, Irish elk and moose able to return (51) and how did hunter gatherers interrupt the western flow of vascular plants (52)? Thus inevitably, bison will always be behind fences if they are imposed on Britain. They will become a conservation grazing tool, irrespective of whether there is some analogy to a missing large herbivore, a real stretch to think that they would be an “ecological replacement” or “functional type” just because they may be nearest thing that continental Europe still has to a wild megaherbivore (see earlier). You must judge for yourself whether this is the motivation for the inclusion of bison, or whether it has something to do with Rewilding Europe's Bison Rewilding Plan (53).

I have to say that I have not been very effective in influencing the formation of RB. Given years of experience of being on the Boards of companies limited by guarantee, a trustee of national and local charities, their governance, public accountability, recruitment and selection, and chairmanship, I had made the offer to help with constituting the new organisation, but this was not taken up. I thus had to express my disappointment that the charity was registered under the foundation model that doesn’t have a membership (54,55). I explained that it sent out the wrong message to the many young people who had expressed their need to have an organisation that articulates their aspirations for wild nature, and which they would join as a measure of their support. It was for this reason that I could not then put myself forward to become a trustee of the charity. I also had to express my disappointment that RB had signed up to the “Vision for a Wilder Europe”, the first drafts of which had read like a press release for Rewilding Europe, and later drafts were no better (23). I’m not even sure what discussion there was about this undertaking, as it was not a decision of the charity trustees.

At various times, I have stressed the need to the shepherding group for a strong, high-level common belief and a confident voice in where RB was going, coupled with the opportunity to build and nurture public support. In April, a draft reintroductions policy was circulated, and to which I replied there was little credibility in having a wish list of “other missing species” when I had explained so many times before that any species for which there is no consensus on its qualification for reinstatement as a former native species will spend its life behind a fence – it will never be allowed to be free living. I also thought it was a bit rich of RB to cast a vision of surrogates and proxies, “functional types” such as elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions and hyaenas, on to continental Europe that they would find as onerous to contemplate as would be the case here, especially since species distribution models would very likely show the implausibility of this ensemble of species. I gave the example of the modelling of the release of the so-called Pleistocene surrogate species of elephant, lion, cheetah and oryx to the southern Great Plains and American southwest (56). I explained that I was concerned that the reintroductions were just a bragging list if it is not seen in the context of the ecological restoration that is needed of highly modified landscapes, and how this is to be achieved within the mix of land ownership that we have. Ecological restoration is not just about the reinstatement of the animal kingdom, but also about the reinstatement of natural vegetation to those highly simplified landscapes (26). This then begged the question of what that overall policy was to be, and how the broad church of interest that is currently associated with RB can be accommodated within a high aspiration for natural vegetation, but without compromising it. You won’t see anything about restoration of natural vegetation being a key aim on the RB website.

Going to the credibility of Rewilding Britain

You can get a measure of how broad that church is by looking on the projects page of the RB website, and where the hyperbole and lies of the likes of Ennerdale are repeated, and of other areas that are herbivore-driven and gorging on agri-environment subsidy (23,57,58,59). What does it say for the future direction of RB? Well, a primary objective of RB, which you won’t find on the website, but was picked up from the press release by one newspaper (45) is to facilitate the establishment of three core areas of rewilded land by 2030, in each case, 100,000 hectares or more. It seems to me that having a plausible view of how the three core areas are to be achieved is a priority for RB, and you could argue that much else in terms of dissemination on ecological restoration could follow from that. It thus goes to the credibility of RB, and while there are many ways to go about developing that plausible view, discussion about those ways has died a death, leaving a void for the unhelpful to fill.

Thus Paul Jepson, School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford, used the RB launch to layout his notion of “rewilding experiments”, extolling the use of “non-native species if they contribute a functional role in ecosystems” (60). He questioned why Monbiot, in his list of 15 species to reintroduce, had missed out the auroch and tarpan, noting that “progressive Dutch ecologists realised that their functional analogues survived as cattle and ponies and their ecological role could be restored through de-domestication such as at “the famous Oostvaardersplassen reserve”. Examples of where his rewilding experiments could take place included “reintroducing wild [?] cattle and companion herbivores” to the Sefton Coast Dune system and “seeing what happens” – they will, of course need to be fenced in, but he doesn’t say that. Other examples he gives are the creation of “wild [?] cattle and pony step-lands on the Ridgeway”, a trackway between Wiltshire and Berkshire, and wild boar and deer-driven woodland ecosystems in Wales” – more fencing? Jepson has also written a paper where he calls for use of agri-environment funding through the Natura 2000 scheme in the EU in creating a network of “experimental reserves” backed by an article added in to the habitats directive, the EU legislation for nature conservation (61). Jepson’s rewilding experiments are thus just a continuation of a farming pressure on the landscape, and which of course fits with the mainstream dogma of the conservation industry in Britain (2,22). Unwittingly, Jepson acknowledges this (61):
“There is no need to position rewilding as a new conservation paradigm that challenges established ways of doing conservation and knowing nature. Rewilding sites can be contained, sit within existing spatial structures, and compliment rather than threaten existing conservation practice”

I challenge Rewilding Britain and all of us who seek a future for wild nature in Britain, to come up with something infinitely better than these rewilding experiments.

Mark Fisher 4, 6 August 2015

(1) Lorrimer, J. & Driessen, C. (2013) Bovine biopolitics and the promise of monsters in the rewilding of Heck cattle. Geoforum 48: 249–259


(2) The revisionism of the conservation industry – expanding the noosphere in Britain, Self-willed land March 2012


(3) Ideas radio program on "rewilding" is broadcast, Addendum to: The challenge of Lost Island - making ourselves wilder, Self-willed land November 2014


(4) CHANGE PROCESSES AT SCALE – ARE THEY NATURAL? Self-willed land November 2014


(5) Tweede Kamer: Leidraad grote grazers (policy guideline large grazers, policy letter to the Chairman of the Second Chamber of Parliament) 19 January 2000


(6) Beheer grote grazers via verbeterd predatormodel wordt voortgezet (Management of large herbivores is continued through improved predator model), Oostvaardersplassen Nieuswbrief, Speciale editie, Staatsbosbeheer November 2004


(7) DE WINTERSTERFTE 2004-2005 VAN GROTE GRAZERS IN DE OOSTVAARDERSPLASSEN, Briefadvies van 14 juni 2005 van de Raad van Dierenaangelegenheden en de Raad van het Landelijk Gebied


(8) ICMO, 2006. Reconciling Nature and human interests. Report of the International Committee on the Management of large herbivores in the Oostvaardersplassen (ICMO). The Hague/Wageningen, Netherlands. Wageningen UR - WING rapport 018. June 2006


(9) ICMO2, 2010. Natural processes, animal welfare, moral aspects and management of the Oostvaardersplassen. Report of the second International Commission on Management of the Oostvaardersplassen (ICMO2). The Hague/Wageningen, Netherlands. Wing rapport 039. November 2010


(10) Cornelissen, P., Bokdam, J., Sykora, K., & Berendse, F. (2014). Effects of large herbivores on wood pasture dynamics in a European wetland system.Basic and Applied Ecology, 15(5), 396-406.


(11) Smit, C., Ruifrok, J. L., van Klink, R., & Olff, H. (2015). Rewilding with large herbivores: The importance of grazing refuges for sapling establishment and wood-pasture formation. Biological Conservation, 182, 134-142


(12) Lack of natural control mechanisms - the missing lynx, Self-willed land June 2014




(14) Vera, F. (2010). The shifting baseline syndrome in restoration ecology. Restoration and history: the search for a usable environmental past. Edited by M. Hall. Routledge, New York, 98-110


(15) Lorrimer, J. & Driessen, C. (2014) Experiments with the wild at the Oostvaardersplassen. ECOS 35: 44-52


(16) Five fantastic days in the wilds of Western Iberia, Rianneke Mees, Rewilding Europe 9. June 2014


(17) Rewilding herbivores in Iberia, Diego Benito Peñil and João Quadrado, Rewilding Europe 11 November 2011


(18) Newborn calves and foals roaming freely in Western Iberia, Bárbara Pais, Rewilding Europe 4 March 2015


(19) Western Iberia II – Faia Brava, Portugal, Staffan Widstrand, Rewilding Europe 20. April 2011


(20) Wildlife returns to Western Iberia, Rewilding Europe 8 May 2012


(21) Wolves & Bustards in Rural Spain. Naturetrek Tour Report 23 - 27 December 2011


(22) Nature improvement and restoration areas - are they a step towards rewilding? Self-willed land June 2011


(23) What is rewilding? Self-willed land September 2013


(24) The challenge of Lost Island - making ourselves wilder, Self-willed land November 2014


(25) Naundrup, P. J., & Svenning, J. C. (2015). A Geographic Assessment of the Global Scope for Rewilding with Wild-Living Horses (Equus ferus).PloS one,10(7), e0132359.


(26) The natural vegetation of England, Self-willed land August 2014


(27) Beyer, H. L., Haydon, D. T., Morales, J. M., Frair, J. L., Hebblewhite, M., Mitchell, M., & Matthiopoulos, J. (2010). The interpretation of habitat preference metrics under use–availability designs. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 365(1550), 2245-2254.


(28) Born to be free in the Velebit rewilding area, Croatia, Rewilding Europe 5 August 2014


(29) Seddon, P. J., Griffiths, C. J., Soorae, P. S., & Armstrong, D. P. (2014). Reversing defaunation: Restoring species in a changing world.Science,345(6195), 406-412.


(30) Misperceptions of the Infrastructure Bill - willful ignorance of the conservation industry? Self-willed land August 2014


(31) Hayward, M. W., & Kerley, G. I. (2009). Fencing for conservation: Restriction of evolutionary potential or a riposte to threatening processes?. Biological Conservation, 142(1), 1-13


(32) Vanak, A. T., Thaker, M., & Slotow, R. (2010). Do fences create an edge-effect on the movement patterns of a highly mobile mega-herbivore?. Biological Conservation, 143(11), 2631-2637.


(33) Jørgensen, D. (2014). Rethinking rewilding. Geoforum In Press



(34) Sandom, C. Donlan, J. Svenning, J.,C. & Hansen, D.  (2013) Rewilding in Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2 Eds. Macdonald, D.W. and Willis, K.J. (John Wiley and Sons, Ltd) pp 430-451.


(35) Lorimer, J., Sandom, C., Jepson, P., Doughty, C.E., Barua, M. & Kirby, K. (2015) Rewilding: Science, Practice, and Politics. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, in press


(36) Soulé, M. and Noss, R. (1998) Rewilding and biodiversity: complementary goals for continental conservation. Wild Earth 8(3): 1-11


(37) The Wildland Network


(38) Wilderness Advisory Group 1985. Wilderness policy. Department of Lands and Survey and the New Zealand Forest Service. In Appendix 2, The state of wilderness in New Zealand, Edited by Gordon Cessford. Department of Conservation 2001


(39) The future looks wild, Sustainable Environment News, University of Leeds 15 October 2009


(40) Hilary Benn announces review of England's wildlife and ecological network, DEFRA News Release Ref: 226/09, 28 September 2009


(41) Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network, Chaired by Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS Submitted to the Secretary of State, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 16 September 2010


(42) Let’s make Britain wild again and find ourselves in nature, George Monbiot, Guardian 16 July 2015


(43) Crofters attack "blinkered" proposals to re-introduce lynx, wolves and other species to Scotland, Helen McArdle Herald Scotland 16 July 2015


(44) Farmer alarm at Scots ‘rewilding’ species campaign, Alistair Munro, The Scotsman 19 July 2015


(45) Rewilding Scotland: green and public bodies unite to bring back wolves, lynx and sturgeon, David Leask, Herald Scotland 15 July 2015


(46) As a shepherd, I know we have not ‘sheepwrecked’ Britain’s landscape, Annie Meanwell, Guardian 21 July 2015


(47) Confirmed minutes of the fifty second Natural England Board meeting on 29 April 2015


(48) Rewilding - don't believe the hype, Gordon Davidson, The Scottish Farmer 17 July 2015


(49) Bison, Reintroductions, Rewilding Britain


(50) 15 species that should be brought back to rewild Britain, George Monbiot, Guardian 15 July 2015


(51) Montgomery, W. I., Provan, J., McCabe, A. M., & Yalden, D. W. (2014). Origin of British and Irish mammals: disparate post-glacial colonisation and species introductions. Quaternary Science Reviews, 98, 144-165


(52) Webb, D.A. (1983) The flora of Ireland in its European context. Journal of Life Sciences, Royal Dublin Society vol. 3:143-160.


(53) Vlasakker, J. van de (2014). Rewilding Europe Bison Rewilding Plan, 2014–2024. Publication by Rewilding Europe, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

(54) REWILDING BRITAIN, Charity No. 1159373, Charity Framework, Charity Commission


(55) Constitution of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation whose only voting members are its charity trustees, The Charity Commission August 2014


(56) Richmond, O. M., McEntee, J. P., Hijmans, R. J., & Brashares, J. S. (2010). Is the climate right for Pleistocene rewilding? Using species distribution models to extrapolate climatic suitability for mammals across continents. PloS one 5(9), 1-11


(57) Rewilding projects, Rewilding Britain


(58) Large carnivores as the focal species for reinstatement of natural processes in Britain, Self-willed land November 2014


(59) Watching the naturalness return to the Carrifran Valley, Self-willed land April 2015


(60) Rewilding isn’t about nostalgia – exciting new worlds are possible, Paul Jepson, The Conversation July 22, 2015


(61) Jepson, P. (2015) A rewilding agenda for Europe: creating a network of experimental reserves. Ecography. Article first published online: 14 JUL 2015




www.self-willed-land.org.uk  mark.fisher@self-willed-land.org.uk