A Rewilding Theory of Change

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Sally Ann Hawkins, Ian Convery, Darrell Smith

Publication Date:

Rewilding has the potential to create transformational change in social-ecological systems, with long-term goals of restoring complete, self-sustaining ecosystems and ecocentric societal values. Since the emergence of the concept in North America in the 1990s, the concept of rewilding has evolved and grown in complexity, becoming more difficult to define, apply and evaluate. As a result, the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management commissioned a Rewilding Task Force (now the Rewilding Thematic Group) to establish a globally recognized definition and principles for rewilding (Carver, Convery, Hawkins et al., forthcoming). To inform this work, we surveyed 60 international rewilding “pioneers” to trace the evolution of the concept and establish the common intentions of rewilding in research and practice. This oral presentation presents the results of this survey, giving a brief history of the concept, and proposes a rewilding theory of change based on the results. While this theory of change establishes that rewilding intentions are shared, it allows for adaptability and complexity in socialecological systems, recognizing that the most effective rewilding interventions will differ across systems based on the current social-ecological conditions. Rewilding requires and promotes transformational ecological and social change, the application of rewilding therefore requires innovative and interdisciplinary approaches. By creating this theory of change we hope to provide a focus for remaining debates and a framework for planning, monitoring and evaluating rewilding, enabling researchers and practitioners to affect vital change

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program