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Research at the University of Cumbria is benefitting nature and people by informing the regulation and implementation of species restoration and reintroduction programmes, as well as international approaches to ‘rewilding’.



Rewilding has emerged over the last 20 years in the context of increasing nature depletion and a sixth mass extinction. The lack of consistent use and a universally accepted definition of rewilding has led to misrepresentation in both practice and policy application, leading to conflict, and negative outcomes for people and nature.



Research at the University of Cumbria, has sought to catalyse change at a global and coordinated scale with people and communities at the centre through a number of national and international research projects.

Researchers examined the ‘Wild Ennerdale’ initiative in the Lake District, articulating disparities between the initiative’s view of engagement and participation and some members of the local community. Research also took a global outlook, examining the potential of rewilding for progressive conservation.

Members of the team were appointed Co-Chair of the newly-formed ‘Rewilding Task Group’ (RTG) of the ‘Commission on Ecosystem Management’. Other work involved a programme of engagement and consultation, leading to a set of rewilding principles to be adopted by the International Union for Conservation and Nature.



The research has informed new international regulation and guidance for rewilding. The team convened The Commission for Ecosystems Management’s first Task Force which developed an internationally recognised ‘rewilding’ definition now utilised on a global scale by the conservation community.

At the national scale, research has been used to make decisions on UK reintroductions of the lynx and beaver, and to implement species reintroduction and community engagement programmes. As one example, BOOM is a four-year project commencing in 2019 with an overall aim to restore, via citizen science and community participation, up to 12 species of flora and fauna to South Cumbria.


More information

Institution: University of Cumbria 

Researcher: Professor Ian Convery


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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Rewilding and species reintroductions research shapes global policy and local conservation programmes. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>