Wilderness engineering

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Wilderness engineering is an emerging ideology, study and practice of integrating the science of ecology, archaeology and palaeontology with principles of conservation and rewilding for the reconstruction of lost wilderness ecosystems.


Between 800 and 1150 wild koniks live in the Oostvaardersplassen, a 56 km² wilderness engineering/rewilding project in the Netherlands

Rewilding is a relatively new ideology of large-scale conservation. It is aimed at the restoration and continued conservation of natural processes and core wilderness areas, while also providing connectivity between such areas. The reintroduction of keystone species and apex predators also lies at the core of rewilding. As a whole some rewilding projects may require ecological restoration, particularly the restoration of connectivity between fragmented protected wilderness areas, and the reintroduction of animal species where extirpated (especially the latger keystone mammal species that served as natural ecosystem engineers). The word "rewilding" was first coined by conservationist and activist Dave Foreman, one of the founders of the group Earth First! who went on to help establish both the Wildlands Project (now the Wildlands Network) and the Rewilding Institute.[1] The term first occurred in print in 1990[2] and was refined by conservation biologists Michael Soulé and Reed Noss in a paper published in 1998.[3] According to Soulé and Noss, rewilding is a conservation method based on "cores, corridors, and carnivores."[4] The concepts of cores, corridors, and carnivores were developed further in 1999.[5] Dave Foreman subsequently wrote the first full-length exegesis of rewilding as a conservation strategy.[6] Although wilderness engineering incorporates aspects of [rewilding]] the two ideologies differ in implementation. Rewilding seeks to leave nature to its own in order for nature to "restore itself", while Wilderness engineering seeks to restore a lost ecosystem by means of manual recreation (be that replanting an entire forest of introducing seemingly exotic ecological equivalents of lost fauna)!

See also


  1. Fraser, Rewilding the World, p. 356.
  2. Foote, Jennifer (5 February 1990), Trying to Take Back the Planet, Newsweek
  3. Soulé, Michael; Noss, Reed (Fall 1998), Rewilding and Biodiversity: Complementary Goals for Continental Conservation, Wild Earth 8, pp. 19–28
  4. Soule and Noss, "Rewilding and Biodiversity," p. 22.
  5. Continental Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks, edited by Soulé and John Terborgh, Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1999
  6. Foreman, Dave (2004), Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century, Washington, D.C.: Island Press

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