wildE project kicks off!
Kicking off an exciting new project with a great team! The wildE project has officially begun, following a kick-off event in Bordeaux in January. Several familiar FNP faces are involved; Georg Winkel, Agata Konczal, Arjen Buijs, Sabrina Dressel and Koen Arts. Angus Smith and Ravi Van de Port are the new PhD candidates on the project.
wildE is an EU-funded project which spans different EU and combines a diversity of disciplines and expertise. The aim of the project is to assess the potential of the rewilding approach, a form of ecological restoration with an emphasis on reducing human control and 'letting nature do the job,' in addressing the climate crisis. Climate change mitigation and adaptation would be worked on in a way that creates synergies with other environmental and societal needs through the climate-smart rewilding strategy. An interesting but also challenging aspect of the project is that the concepts used and proposed ideas are open to different interpretations and applications, which emphasises the importance of communication between researchers, policymakers and local stakeholders.
The wildE project is a collaborative project supported by a team of 22 partners. The partners include both academic institutions, such as universities and research organizations, and non-academic institutions, such as IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and forestry companies. Within these partners, there is an extensive range of expertise, including ecologists, economists, social scientists, climate scientists, land-use change experts, and Europe’s first-ever professor in Rewilding – Dr. Liesbeth Bakker (who is a Special Professor of Rewilding Ecology right here at Wageningen University). It is often said that diversity drives innovation, and with such a diverse range of expertise coming from a diverse range of partners, the wildE project aims to truly understand and highlight the potential challenges and benefits of climate-smart rewilding.
Within the FNP team, Angus, Sabrina, and Arjen will be focusing on a survey that will be distributed to households across the 27 EU countries, plus the UK, Norway, and Switzerland. This survey aims to investigate societal perceptions of rewilding-related processes and practices as well as other land uses and conservation practices, and how these perceptions may differ according to geographical, demographic, and sociographic factors.
Ravi, Agata, and Koen meanwhile will be conducting in-depth case study analyses on four of the eight rewilding cases within the wildE team. The selected cases will be complementary in terms of differing potential conflicts, management approaches and socio-ecological contexts. Further analyses of these four projects will involve a lot of in-depth interviews, with the aim of getting a good understanding of the expansive range of what nature, wilderness and wildness are and mean to different people, and what the different socio-economic issues and policy interests are that can arise related to rewilding projects.
Through this, the goal is to identify the types of conflict that can arise around rewilding projects, how this potential conflict could be managed, minimized or maybe even prevented! We are hugely excited about the potential impacts that this project could bring, not only for nature and the climate but for people and societies as well! Over the next four years we will also actively invite students to contribute to the project through Master theses or internships. We are excited to get started and looking forward to working with our project partners and stakeholders on the ground.