Rewilding is the concept of bringing often locally extinct animals back to former habitats. We have discussed it here many times. But the Irish Times says a researcher is advocating a new twist. “Convivial Rewilding” would be a way to balance the interests of the wild animals being returned to Ireland and the people living there.
Rewilding efforts are nothing new to he British Isles. Bison and beavers have been re-wilded. but the idea of “convivial rewilding” is slightly different. It is more akin to the idea of “people centric” conservation now being advocated.
The term “convivial rewilding” comes from Dara Sands, an Irish born doctoral candidate at a he Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He got the idea watching the way animals and humans interact in South Africa.
One key species that may be considered for introduction is the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Wolves were eliminated in Ireland in 1786. Ireland was the last of the United Kingdom countries to kill them off. They were gone from Scotland in 1680 and from Britain by 1509.
According to the Irish Times:
“Mr Sands believes conflicts over rewilding could be transformed via convivial conservation (i.e. ‘living with’), which moves away from a ‘top-down’ approach where nature is protected and fenced-off from humans, often literally. Instead, he advocates nature be allowed to flow more freely, with people being allowed to be part of the same spaces – some human spaces will become wilder, and some wild spaces will become more human-occupied. Convivial conservation also proposes changes in how conservation is financed, with a basic conservation income for those living in or near biodiverse areas. At the same time, those with the largest environmental footprints must change their livelihoods the most, regardless of how far they live from conservation.”
Although he claims not to be an advocate of “top-down” conservation his suggestion that those with “large environmental footprints” must change smacks of a certain authoritarianism.
The jaguar is he subject of various re wilding efforts in the United States and Central and South America
Other methods of more “people-centric” conservations can be seen with snow leopard conservation and the near doubling of wild tigers in Bhutan. Some of these efforts have involved concepts similar to Sand’s proposals. The World
Wildlife Federation has endorsed “people centric” conservation.