Restoration and rewilding: complementary approaches for nature recovery

Prof James Bullock


Restoration and rewilding are generally presented as conceptually different approaches to conservation. Potential synergies and complementarities are rarely considered. Here, I discuss the benefits of integrating rewilding and restoration in conservation projects and highlight how such integration could increase the amount of space available for nature recovery; boost knowledge exchange and raise nature recovery ambitions; enhance landscape heterogeneity and dynamics; and improve large scale connectivity. Furthermore, restoration and rewilding can learn from each other both conceptually and practically. I argue that developing a portfolio of integrated approaches that capitalise on the strengths of both restoration and rewilding and target different scales and socio- ecological contexts is the best way to address the biodiversity and climate crises.


James is a conservation ecologist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, an independent, not-for-profit research institute, carrying out environmental science across water, land and air. James has worked for many years on developing solutions to the ecological emergency that are scientifically sound, yet are based in real world constraints and ambitions. A major focus is ecosystem restoration, and developing new approaches to achieve complex, biodiverse systems that will be resilient to ongoing environmental change. This is linked to research on how we can design more sustainable farming systems, while also freeing up land for restoration and rewilding. He is fascinated by questions about how we scale up these approaches to create connected landscapes. James works closely with other researchers, NGOs, and policy makers, and across disciplines to ensure we can provide solutions that work for nature and for people.

James Bullock