Organised session - Rewilding landscapes for the future - learning from the past

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherAcademic


Natura2000 and Water Framework Directive policies aim for natural conditions in rural landscapes within the EU. As a result, many nature restoration, reconstruction or 'rewilding' projects are currently underway to (re)create natural landscapes. Such projects often strive for a multi-disciplinary approach to achieve an increase in biodiversity, sustainability or climate resilience. In addition, rewilding is expected to also benefit tourism development and landscape heritage preservation. Rewilding projects often involve intensive physical changes in ecosystems, such as re-meandering, undraining, removing ditches, creating nature-friendly embankments and top soil removal.

However, such physical changes may also be a threat to landscape values. There are examples of areas where important archaeological or cultural-historical structures were damaged. Elsewhere reconstruction of river beds has resulted in physical processes that are not endemic to the specific landscape. This raises the question to what extent rewilding projects are based on knowledge of historical natural landscape conditions and processes. It may be that they are based on expected natural conditions, relying on general, not location-specific processes. In such cases, rewilding either does not fully benefit from available knowledge about the historical landscape or there is simply a lack of available knowledge for a sound foundation of rewilding plans. This has resulted in expectations not being met after completion of the rewilding works or, even worse, extensive irreversible damage to heritage in some cases.

With this session we aim to assess and evaluate rewilding landscape projects in Europe and elsewhere. We would like to discuss to what extent the different types of landscape heritage (i.e. natural, cultural historical and geoheritage) are or should have been part of the rewilding process and what the consequences are for future landscape management.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventPECSRL conference - Austria, Innsbruck
Duration: 5-Sept-20169-Sept-2016


ConferencePECSRL conference

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