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Special Issue "Functional Rewilding: Addressing the Challenge of Giving Control Back to Nature"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability, Biodiversity and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Iain J. Gordon
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Fenner School for Environment and Society, Australian National University, Acton, ACT 2100, Australia
2. Central Queensland University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
3. Land and Water, CSIRO, QLD 4810, Australia
4. James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen AB10 8QH, UK
Interests: conservation; biodiversity; agriculture; food security; climate change
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Adrian D. Manning
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Fenner School for Environment and Society, Australian National University, Acton, ACT 2100, Australia
Interests: landscape ecology; restoration ecology; conservation biology; reintroduction biology
Dr. Javier Pérez-Barbería
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agroforestry Science and Technology and Genetics (IDR), University of Castilla-La Mancha, 02071 Albacete, Spain
Interests: grazing ecology; conservation; biodiversity; methane emissions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human influence extends across the globe, from the tallest mountains to the depth of the oceans. There is a growing call for nature to be protected from the negative impacts of human activity, particularly intensive agriculture. A relatively new approach, within the “land sparing/land sharing” debate, is “rewilding”, defined as the restoration of self-sustaining and complex ecosystems, with interlinked ecological functional processes that facilitate minimizing or gradually reducing human intervention. The key theoretical basis of rewilding is to return ecosystems to a “natural” or “self-willed” state, with trophic complexity, dispersal, connectivity, and stochastic disturbance in place. In reality, this is constrained by context-specific factors, whereby it may not be possible to restore the native species that form part of the trophic structure of the ecosystem if they are extinct (e.g., mammoths, Mammuthus spp., aurochs, and Bos primigenius) or where populations/assemblages of native large herbivores/predators may not be able to survive or be accepted by the public in small-scale rewilding projects close to areas of high human density. Therefore, the restoration of natural trophic complexity and disturbance regimes within rewilding projects requires careful consideration if the broader conservation needs of society are to be met. This Special Issue seeks contributions from those who are involved in active rewilding projects. The emphasis will be on what challenges are being faced and how these are being overcome. This will allow us to take the lessons learnt from across the globe to chart a way forward in supporting the return of natural ecological processes on the pathway to rewilded ecosystems.

Prof. Dr. Iain J. Gordon
Prof. Dr. Adrian D. Manning
Dr. Javier Pérez-Barbería‬
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • rewilding
  • trophic rewilding
  • complex ecosystems
  • restoration
  • trophic complexity

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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Article
Motivations of Volunteers in Danish Grazing Organizations
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8163; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158163 - 21 Jul 2021
Viewed by 553
Abstract
Global biodiversity is under pressure from human activities, and the effort for nature conservation and restoration and the allocation of economic resources for biodiversity policies remain insufficient. In such a context, volunteers can play an important role as a resource in nature conservation [...] Read more.
Global biodiversity is under pressure from human activities, and the effort for nature conservation and restoration and the allocation of economic resources for biodiversity policies remain insufficient. In such a context, volunteers can play an important role as a resource in nature conservation projects if their recreational activities interact with the objectives of nature management. In recent years, the number of volunteers in conservation work has increased in Denmark, with more people volunteering to contribute to nature conservation projects. Ensuring that volunteers remain motivated and engaged is crucial for the success of such conservation projects. In this study, we evaluated the motivation among members of grazing organizations, an activity that represents the most prominent voluntary nature conservation initiative in Denmark. We applied an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and an ordinal regression to analyze survey data from 25 Danish grazing organizations. We found that five motivational factors determine the engagement of the volunteers, namely social, nature value, instrumental, identification, and personal benefit. Whereas the social, nature value and personal benefit are factors also identified in the existing literature, the instrumental and identification factors add new perspectives to the motivation of environmental volunteers. We found that place attachment is an important driver, and that the chairpersons/coordinators of the grazing organizations especially emphasized the sharing of values and knowledge with their members as a driver. Lastly, volunteers were reluctant to support the idea of forming a more formal setup in terms of a “grazing organization union”. Full article
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Review

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Review
Rewilding Lite: Using Traditional Domestic Livestock to Achieve Rewilding Outcomes
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3347; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063347 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1241
Abstract
The vision of rewilding is to return ecosystems to a “natural” or “self-willed” state with trophic complexity, dispersal (and connectivity) and stochastic disturbance in place. The concept is gaining traction, particularly in Europe where significant land abandonment has taken place in recent years. [...] Read more.
The vision of rewilding is to return ecosystems to a “natural” or “self-willed” state with trophic complexity, dispersal (and connectivity) and stochastic disturbance in place. The concept is gaining traction, particularly in Europe where significant land abandonment has taken place in recent years. However, in reality, the purest form of rewilding (Rewilding Max) is constrained by a number of context-specific factors whereby it may not be possible to restore the native species that form part of the trophic structure of the ecosystem if they are extinct (for example, mammoths, Mammuthus spp., aurochs, Bos taurus primigenius). In addition, populations/communities of native herbivores/predators may not be able to survive or be acceptable to the public in small scale rewilding projects close to areas of high human density or agricultural land. Therefore, the restoration of natural trophic complexity and disturbance regimes within rewilding projects requires careful consideration if the broader conservation needs of society are to be met. Here we highlight the importance of herbivory as a key factor in rewilding. We argue that the use of the suite of livestock species, and in particular traditional breeds, offers the opportunity, under both land sharing/sparing strategies, to reinstate a more “natural” form of herbivory but still retain the option for management interventions (Rewilding Lite). It will even be possible to gain economic returns (ecotourism, sale of livestock products) from these systems, which will make them more acceptable to state and private landowners. We develop our case based on the advantages of using landraces versus de-domestication strategies, and on the implementation of eco-shepherding herbivory as a restoration tool in fine mosaics of agriculture/natural patches. If this approach is adopted, then larger areas can be given over to conservation, because of the potential broader benefits to society from these spaces and the engagement of farmers in practices that are closer to their traditions. Full article
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