In a world where the balance between humanity and nature teeters, rewilding emerges as a symbol of hope and progress. The concept has surged to the forefront of ecological discourse, offering a vision of restoration for our planet’s wild places. This article explores the 20 best examples of rewilding and the most remarkable rewilding projects, where degraded landscapes are returning to their vibrant and self-sustaining glory.

From the return of apex predators to the rejuvenation of entire ecosystems, these projects exemplify the extraordinary power of rewilding. They testify to nature’s resilience and the potential for mending the rifts we’ve created in the tapestry of life.

The Best Examples Of Rewilding



1. Urban Rewilding
Urban rewilding is a transformative approach to utilizing unused urban spaces for the benefit of both the environment and the community. This practice often involves the creation of green spaces like rooftop gardens, urban farms, and community parks on previously underutilized areas within cities. These initiatives bring a multitude of advantages.

First and foremost, urban rewilding addresses climate change. It increases the presence of vegetation in urban environments, which helps sequester carbon dioxide and mitigates the urban heat island effect. As a result, it contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and assists in combating global warming. Moreover, these green spaces act as natural coolers, helping to lower temperatures in densely populated areas.

Secondly, urban rewilding has a significant impact on public health. Access to green spaces within urban settings has been linked to improved mental well-being, reduced stress, and increased physical activity. This, in turn, leads to a healthier and happier urban population.

In practice, cities worldwide have already embraced urban rewilding. Examples like the High Line in New York City, a former elevated railway turned into a thriving park, and the Breathe Easy Garden in London, showcase how these spaces can revitalize communities while contributing to a more sustainable future.

2. Riparian Restoration
Riparian restoration is a critical approach to improving the ecological health of riverbank environments. This method involves planting native vegetation along riverbanks to prevent soil erosion and enhance water quality. The advantages of riparian restoration are multifaceted.

One of the most significant benefits is the improvement of water quality. The vegetation’s roots stabilize the soil and act as a natural filter, reducing the flow of pollutants and sediments into the water. This helps to maintain the quality of the water in rivers and adjacent bodies of water.

Additionally, riparian restoration enhances the aesthetic and recreational value of these areas. The presence of lush vegetation and healthy ecosystems creates more picturesque riverbanks and promotes outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation.

Restoring riparian zones also plays a critical role in conserving biodiversity. Native plants attract a variety of wildlife, supporting their habitat and food sources. By restoring these areas, we are not only safeguarding natural landscapes but also promoting the well-being of countless species.

3. Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are designated regions within the world’s oceans where human activities, such as fishing and mining, are restricted or prohibited. These areas are essential for the conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems, much like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia and the Virginian Atlantic marine ecoregion in the US.

One of the primary goals of MPAs is the rejuvenation of marine life. By limiting human interference, overfishing, and habitat destruction, these areas allow fish populations to recover and habitats to flourish. As a result, these zones are vital for maintaining biodiversity in the world’s oceans.

MPAs also offer valuable research opportunities. Scientists can study these protected environments to better understand marine ecosystems, assess the effects of climate change, and develop conservation strategies that can be applied globally.

Moreover, MPAs contribute to ecotourism, benefiting local economies. Visitors can explore the beauty of these protected areas while contributing to the financial sustainability of the regions surrounding them. This shows how conservation can be harmonized with economic interests.

4. Corridor Creation
Wildlife corridors are integral to rewilding efforts, such as the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. These corridors are designed to facilitate the movement and dispersal of animals across fragmented landscapes, effectively reconnecting isolated populations.

These corridors are essential for the long-term survival of various species. They allow animals to migrate, find new habitats, and interbreed with distant populations. By doing so, they help to maintain genetic diversity, making wildlife more resilient to environmental changes.

Moreover, corridor creation minimizes human-wildlife conflicts. By guiding animals away from populated areas, it reduces conflicts and protects both wildlife and people. This harmonious coexistence is critical for conservation and maintaining ecological balance.

The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, for instance, envisions a vast interconnected network of protected lands and corridors that stretches from Yellowstone National Park in the US to the Yukon in Canada. This initiative demonstrates the power of such rewilding efforts in preserving iconic North American species like grizzly bears and wolves.

5. Grassland Restoration
Grassland restoration involves the reintroduction of native grasses and plants to rejuvenate degraded grassland ecosystems. This practice is instrumental in maintaining biodiversity and supporting various ecosystems, especially during periods of drought.

Restoring native grasses and plants is pivotal in countering land degradation. These native species are well-adapted to local conditions and can better withstand drought and other environmental stressors. By reestablishing them, we fortify the resilience of grasslands against climate change.

Furthermore, these restored grasslands provide essential habitats for a wide range of species, from insects to large mammals. Native plants support the intricate web of life, providing food and shelter for various creatures, including pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Grassland restoration also benefits agriculture. Healthy grasslands can improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and enhance the overall health of the land. In some cases, they can even be used for sustainable grazing, contributing to the livelihoods of local communities.

6. Species Reintroduction
Species reintroduction is a crucial component of rewilding efforts, aimed at restoring ecological balance by bringing back locally extinct species to their natural habitats. A notable success story in this regard is the reintroduction of the California condor. The California condor, a critically endangered species, was brought back from the brink of extinction through a meticulous breeding and reintroduction program. The birds were bred in captivity and gradually released into their historic range in California. This initiative has not only increased the California condor population but has also positively impacted the entire ecosystem, as these large scavengers play a vital role in maintaining ecological health.

7. Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture represents a sustainable and holistic approach to farming that seeks to mimic natural ecosystem processes. This method emphasizes practices such as cover cropping, rotational grazing, and reduced chemical use to improve soil health and reduce environmental damage. By prioritizing animal welfare and promoting diversity in crops, regenerative agriculture not only ensures more sustainable farming practices but also enhances the resilience of agricultural systems to climate change. One prominent example is the Soil Health Institute in the United States, which conducts research and provides resources to support the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices.

8. Fire Management
Kruger National Park in South Africa serves as an exemplary model for fire management in rewilding. Controlled burning, as practiced in Kruger National Park, involves carefully planned and controlled fires to shape landscapes, rejuvenate soil, and promote plant diversity. This process mimics natural fire patterns, helping to prevent destructive wildfires and encourage the growth of fire-adapted vegetation. Kruger National Park’s fire management strategy has been instrumental in maintaining the park’s biodiversity and preserving the integrity of its ecosystems.

9. Seed Banks
Seed banks play a vital role in preserving the genetic diversity of native plant species, ensuring their availability for restoration efforts in the future. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located in Spitsbergen, Norway, is a remarkable example of a seed bank. This secure facility is designed to withstand natural disasters and potential global crises. It stores a wide variety of seeds from across the world, providing a valuable resource for crop breeding, research, and conservation. Seed banks are essential for safeguarding biodiversity and mitigating the loss of plant species due to environmental changes and human activities.

10. Floating Wetlands
Floating wetlands are innovative solutions to improve water quality and provide habitat for aquatic creatures in urban areas. Typically constructed using materials like polypropylene, polyethylene, and alcohol foam for buoyancy, floating wetlands enhance water ecosystems. The Pantanal in South America is a remarkable example of a natural wetland ecosystem. Covering an impressive 42 million acres, the Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland. Its rich biodiversity, which includes a wide range of wildlife and plant species, underscores the importance of preserving and restoring such wetlands, both natural and artificial, for the well-being of aquatic ecosystems and local communities.

11. No-Till Farming
No-till farming is a sustainable agricultural practice that minimizes soil disturbance during cultivation. Farmers employ specialized equipment like disc seeders and agriculture drills to instantly plant and cover seeds without plowing the soil. This approach offers a host of environmental and economic benefits. By reducing soil disturbance, no-till farming improves soil structure and water retention, leading to healthier and more fertile farmland. Additionally, it fosters the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms that contribute to overall soil health. The advantages extend to cost reduction, as less labor and equipment are required for tilling, and it helps reduce carbon emissions by preserving soil carbon. Moreover, no-till farming enhances soil moisture levels, which can be particularly advantageous in areas with water scarcity or erratic rainfall patterns.

12. Beaver Dam Analogues (BDA)
Beaver Dam Analogues, or BDAs, are engineered structures designed to replicate the shape and function of natural beaver dams. These innovative tools are essential in rewilding efforts because they serve multiple ecological purposes. BDAs not only mimic the dam-building activities of beavers but also help in creating deepwater habitats. These habitats serve as a sanctuary for a variety of aquatic species and provide secure locations for beavers, particularly in regions where beaver translocation is a conservation strategy. By establishing BDAs, we can reduce the risk of predation on beavers and foster the recovery of this keystone species. These structures contribute to restoring wetland ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity while mitigating the consequences of beaver-human conflicts.

13. Agroforestry
Integrating agriculture and trees increases biodiversity, provides shade for livestock, conserves water, enhances soil fertility, and prevents erosion. In the USA, there are five categories of practices which are alley cropping, forest farming, silvopasture, riparian buffers, and windbreaks.

  • Alley cropping – an agroforestry practice that planting trees in an agricultural cropland system. Tropical areas also refer to it as intercropping.
  • Forest farming – it is the cultivation of high-value crops under the protection of managed tree canopy. It is also known as multi-story cropping and is occasionally referred to as home gardening.
  • Silvopasture – Grazing cattle and trees on the same ground is agroforestry.
  • Riparian buffers – Riparian buffers are areas surrounding lakes, wetlands, and streams with trees, shrubs, and perennials. These buffers also protect water quality by intercepting pollutants before they enter the water.
  • Windbreaks – This is a linear planting of trees and shrubs to provide economic, environmental, and community benefits. It worked by absorbing the momentum of wind speed.

14. Reintroduction of Predators
The reintroduction of apex predators, such as the lynx or the grey wolf, plays a crucial role in rewilding ecosystems by restoring natural predator-prey dynamics. Historically, these apex predators were part of many ecosystems and helped regulate prey populations, contributing to overall ecosystem balance. By bringing them back into their natural habitats, we can address imbalances caused by the absence of apex predators, such as overpopulation of herbivores and resulting habitat degradation. This not only benefits the predators but also positively influences ecosystem health, leading to greater species diversity and more resilient ecosystems. Careful management and monitoring are essential to ensure the success of predator reintroduction programs.

15. Natural Grazing
Natural grazing is a rewilding technique that involves using large herbivores like bison or elephants to control vegetation and shape landscapes naturally. A well-known example of this approach is the Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands. By allowing these animals to graze freely, we emulate the historical roles of megafauna in maintaining ecosystems. Bison and elephants help create diverse landscapes by reducing vegetation in certain areas and allowing the growth of other plant species. This process not only promotes biodiversity but also enhances habitat structure, which benefits a wide range of wildlife. It also contributes to the restoration of natural ecological processes and the revitalization of ecosystems that have been disrupted by human activities.

16. Invasive Species Control
Invasive species control is a vital aspect of rewilding, primarily aimed at managing and removing non-native species that disrupt native ecosystems. Invasive species often outcompete and threaten native flora and fauna, leading to imbalances in the ecosystem. To address this, rewilding initiatives around the world employ various strategies, such as manual removal, targeted biological controls, and ecosystem engineering to restore the natural balance. For example, in the Florida Everglades, efforts have been made to combat the invasive Burmese python population, which poses a significant threat to native wildlife. By managing these invasions, rewilding projects promote the recovery of native species and the overall health of the ecosystem.

17. Habitat Diversification
Habitat diversification is an essential component of rewilding that focuses on creating multifaceted ecosystems, incorporating a variety of habitats within one area. By integrating marshes, forests, meadows, and other habitats into a single landscape, rewilders aim to support a wider array of species, from amphibians and birds to mammals and insects. This approach promotes biodiversity and ensures that different species have suitable environments to thrive. The Knepp Estate in West Sussex, UK, is a renowned example of habitat diversification, where former farmland was transformed into a mosaic of habitats, including wetlands, woodlands, and scrubland, fostering the return of species like nightingales, turtle doves, and rare beetles.

18. Rewilding in Indigenous Lands
Rewilding in Indigenous lands is a deeply collaborative approach that honors the knowledge and connection to the land held by Indigenous communities. These initiatives involve restoring abandoned or degraded areas to their natural states, allowing nature to heal the land. One notable example is the Forest of Dean in England, a former coal mining area that has been transformed into a diverse forest. Indigenous communities have a significant role in the regeneration process, drawing on traditional ecological knowledge to guide the restoration efforts. This practice not only rejuvenates ecosystems but also empowers Indigenous people to reclaim and preserve their ancestral lands, fostering a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.

19. Education
Education is a critical aspect of successful rewilding projects. It involves engaging and informing local communities about the principles and benefits of rewilding. By hosting workshops, seminars, and educational programs, rewilding initiatives inspire a sense of stewardship and encourage community involvement in restoration efforts. This educational component not only raises awareness about the importance of preserving natural habitats but also ensures that the public is an active participant in the restoration process. An excellent example is the “Rewilding for All” program in the Netherlands, which involves schools, local organizations, and individuals in rewilding projects, fostering a sense of responsibility and connection to the environment.

20. Natural Regeneration
Natural regeneration is a fascinating facet of rewilding, often illustrated by the remarkable transformation of former industrial or abandoned areas into thriving, diverse ecosystems through minimal human intervention. For instance, in England’s Forest of Dean, a once-desolate coal mining site has naturally regenerated into a rich woodland. This process involves allowing nature to heal the land, with minimal human intervention, such as planting native species or managing invasive ones. Over time, these areas return to a more natural state, showcasing the resilience of nature when given the opportunity to recover. Natural regeneration highlights the power of rewilding in restoring balance and health to damaged ecosystems while emphasizing the importance of hands-off, patient stewardship.

What is Rewilding? 


Rewilding is a powerful and innovative conservation approach that has gained momentum in recent years, capturing the imagination of conservationists, ecologists, and nature enthusiasts worldwide. It’s a concept rooted in the fundamental belief that nature possesses an incredible capacity for self-restoration when given the chance. In this section, we will delve into the core of rewilding, providing a comprehensive definition and explanation of this transformative approach.


Rewilding can be defined as the intentional and strategic process of allowing ecosystems to restore themselves by enabling natural processes and ecological interactions to flourish. It seeks to create self-sustaining, resilient ecosystems where native species can thrive and biodiversity can rebound. This contrasts with traditional conservation efforts that often involve intensive management and human intervention.

At its core, rewilding is not about returning nature to an idealized past state but, rather, about nurturing the intrinsic resilience of ecosystems and facilitating their adaptation to changing environmental conditions. It recognizes that nature, when granted the opportunity, can heal itself.

Key things you need to know about rewilding:

  • Passive vs. Active Rewilding: Rewilding encompasses a spectrum of approaches, from passive to active. Passive rewilding primarily involves stepping back and allowing natural processes to unfold, such as the reestablishment of keystone species like wolves or beavers, which can trigger cascading ecological effects. Active rewilding, on the other hand, may involve more deliberate interventions, such as habitat restoration or translocations of species to kickstart ecological processes.
  • Keystone Species: A key element of rewilding is the reintroduction or protection of keystone species. These are species that exert a disproportionately large influence on their ecosystem. For example, the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park had a profound impact on the entire ecosystem by regulating herbivore populations, influencing vegetation dynamics, and benefiting numerous other species.
  • Habitat Restoration: Rewilding often includes restoring and reconnecting fragmented habitats, allowing species to move freely and enabling genetic diversity to flourish. This may involve removing barriers like dams or roads that impede natural movements.
  • Promoting Natural Succession: Rewilding embraces the dynamic nature of ecosystems, recognizing that they change over time. It encourages allowing ecosystems to progress through natural successional stages, from open fields to mature forests, for instance, fostering a rich mosaic of habitats.
  • Human Collaboration: Effective rewilding projects typically involve collaboration between conservationists, local communities, and policymakers. Local knowledge and buy-in are crucial for success, as rewilding projects can impact human livelihoods and require community support.
  • Measuring Success: Success in rewilding can be assessed through various indicators, including the return of lost species, the recovery of ecosystem services, and the enhancement of biodiversity. Monitoring and adaptive management are integral components of rewilding initiatives.

As we can see above, rewilding is a forward-looking approach to conservation that recognizes that our planet’s ecosystems have incredible resilience when given the space and freedom to thrive. It’s about finding a balance between human needs and the restoration of ecosystems, ultimately benefiting both nature and society. In our ever-changing world, rewilding represents a beacon of hope, offering a path towards a more harmonious coexistence with the natural world.

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