Rewilding: A History of the Ideology, Success Stories, and Future Benefits in Conservation Efforts

Rewilding: A History of the Ideology, Success Stories, and Future Benefits in Conservation Efforts

A History of Rewilding

The concept of rewilding is a relatively new term that refers to the restoration of natural ecosystems and processes, often by reintroducing missing species or allowing natural processes to occur. It has its roots in the conservation movements of the 20th century, but it gained momentum in the late 20th and early 21st centuries as conservationists realized the importance of restoring damaged ecosystems for the benefit of both wildlife and people.

The idea of rewilding can be traced back to the 1970s, when biologist Michael Soule and philosopher Reed Noss proposed a new approach to conservation that focused on restoring ecosystems to their natural state. They argued that conservation efforts should go beyond simply preserving small pockets of land and instead aim to recreate entire ecosystems that had been damaged by human activity.

Success Stories from Rewilding

Over time, rewilding has become more widely accepted as a viable conservation strategy. In 1995, for example, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park after being absent for nearly 70 years. The wolves helped to restore the natural balance of the ecosystem by controlling populations of elk and other grazers, which in turn allowed vegetation to recover and provided habitat for a variety of other species.

Another success story of rewilding can be found in the Netherlands, where the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve was created on land reclaimed from the sea in the 1960s. The reserve was left to develop naturally, and over time it has become home to a wide range of species, including wild horses, red deer, and a variety of bird species.

Rewilding has also been shown to have economic benefits. In the United States, for example, a study by the Center for Western Priorities found that protected public lands, which often incorporate rewilding efforts, contribute significantly to the economy. In 2018, outdoor recreation on these lands generated $427 billion in consumer spending and supported 5.2 million jobs.

The Future of Rewilding

The future benefits of rewilding are also significant. By restoring damaged ecosystems, rewilding can help to mitigate the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon and providing habitat for species that are important for carbon storage. It can also help to protect biodiversity by restoring natural habitats and providing corridors for wildlife to move between protected areas.

Overall, rewilding is an important conservation strategy that has the potential to restore damaged ecosystems, protect biodiversity, and provide economic benefits. By understanding the history and success stories of rewilding, we can work towards a more sustainable future.


  1. The Rewilding Institute. (n.d.). The history of rewilding. Retrieved from

  2. Ripple, W. J., et al. (2014). Status and ecological effects of the world’s largest carnivores. Science, 343(6167), 1241484.

  3. Monbiot, G. (2013). Feral: Rewilding the land, the sea, and human life. University of Chicago Press.

  4. Center for Western Priorities. (2020). The state of the West. Retrieved from

  5. Boitani, L., et al. (2018). Rewilding in Europe: A proposal for a collaborative and integrated strategy. Ecology and Society, 23(1), 36.

Links for further reading:

  1. Rewilding Europe:

  2. Yellowstone Wolf Project:

  3. The Rewilding Institute:

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