Rewilding - what does it mean?

Posted: 4th September, 2018

Dr Lesley Dickie, Chief Executive of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

When setting a new strategy for an organisation you must do a number of things.  Understand where you have been, but make clear goals for the future.  Make those goals ambitious, to stretch the organisation, not merely coast along. Be clear about how you will monitor and evaluate those goals, otherwise how will you know if you are successful?  Figure out what resources will be needed, including people, and plan how to get them. However, most of all make it exciting!

Exciting is absolutely how I would describe our new strategy, Rewild our World. Rewilding is about restoring ecosystems, helping nature to get back on track, and then hopefully, taking our hands off, stepping away, and nature will do what it needs to do.

Rewilding is just such an exciting word, conjuring up images of a nature that is bountiful, beautiful, raw and magnificent.  A nature where wildlife is resilient and functioning.  Coupled with the new strategy is a new vision statement where we want to see a ‘wilder, healthier, more colourful world’.  Each one of those words is carefully chosen.  Wilder is self-explanatory, we want more species thriving in the wild.  Not merely surviving or just hanging on at the edges.  That’s where healthy comes in, a world where species are in good numbers and playing their role in functioning ecosystems. Colourful? Well, we truly believe that each time we lose a species, the world loses a little of its colour.

In our new strategy, we have set some ambitious headline mission goals that the whole organisation will strive for and against which we will measure our success.

We know that our new strategy is bold, but it is also inspiring and with the help of all our partners and supporters, I believe we can all succeed.  Our rewilding sites are terrestrial and reflect places where we have a history of work or where we believe there is pressing need, and where we can add value.

Madagascar Wetlands

Madagascar Dry Forests

St Lucia Dry Forest

Jersey Coastlands

Britain Temperate Forest

Sumatra Rainforest

Galapagos Floreana Island

 Brazil Atlantic Rainforest

Mauritius Island Ecosystems

 India  Terai Grassalands 

Each of our rewilding sites will develop specific approaches to the recovery of some of the most threatened species on Earth and our aim is to become a leader of rewilding, recovering species via the restoration of their broader ecosystems. 

We will continue to train conservationists from around the world, both here in our Academy in Jersey, and at our rewilding sites.  Ensuring that key staff are trained, whether they work for Durrell or another conservation organisation, will contribute to endangered species projects working better globally. 

A significant change is around connecting people to nature.  We have a set a goal of 1 million people better connected, no small task, but we feel this is a key role our zoo can play, as well as increased working with the communities at our rewilding sites.  Connecting people to nature is powerful and as good for people as it is for planet.  Connected people are more likely to carry out actions that help the planet as well as showing better mental and physical health.  We will refresh what we offer at our zoo, getting people closer to animals as well as encouraging ‘wilder’ lifestyles. 

We are busy putting more detailed plans in place for each rewilding sites, with teams made up of staff from across the Trust, working with our partners and building on an exciting strategy

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