Press release NIOO-KNAW

'Rewilding landscapes can help to solve more than one problem'

23 October 2018

Urbanisation, biodiversity loss, climate change: just some of the worldwide problems 'rewilding' - i.e. restoring food chains by returning 'missing' species to the landscape - can help tackle. Researcher Liesbeth Bakker (Netherlands Institute of Ecology) has edited a theme issue of the world's oldest life sciences journalPhil Trans B, on rewilding, together with a Danish expert.

Rewilded landscape: Bison in the Tarcu mountains, Romania. Staffan Widstrand

When animals become extinct or disappear from an area, their unique role in nature is often lost. 'There is increasing evidence that this global wildlife loss does not only imply the loss of charismatic animals, but also the functions they have in ecosystems', argues ecologist Liesbeth Bakker (NIOO-KNAW).

The consequences can be disastrous. Wildfires, for instance, have been an increasingly serious problem: without large herbivores to eat the plant material more of it remains, meaning more 'fuel' for such fires.
'Since the world-wide expansion of modern humans began', explains Bakker, 'humans have overexploited large vertebrates. From the Late Pleistocene extinctions of terrestrial megafauna to the current poaching of elephants and rhinos.'

Read more on the website of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO)

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is an Academy research institute. It conducts ecological research on land, in the ocean and in fresh water and studies how living organisms interact with one another and their environment. NIOO stimulates biodiversity and sustainability in nature and society through its worldwide network of researchers, policymakers, conservationists and other stakeholders.

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is located in Wageningen (Droevendaalsesteeg 10, 6708 PB Wageningen).