Rewilding as a restoration strategy for lowland agricultural landscapes: Stakeholder-assisted multi-criteria analysis in Dorset, UK.

Loth, A.F. and Newton, A., 2018. Rewilding as a restoration strategy for lowland agricultural landscapes: Stakeholder-assisted multi-criteria analysis in Dorset, UK. Journal for Nature Conservation, 46 (December), 110 - 120.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jnc.2018.10.003

Abstract

© 2018 Elsevier GmbH The ongoing loss of global biodiversity suggests that established conservation practices have not been fully successful at halting species decline. Rewilding, a restoration strategy focused on restoring ecological processes, has become increasingly prominent as a potential means of addressing this problem. Rewilding has been described as a versatile approach that is applicable even in areas with dense human populations and productive agricultural landscapes such as the lowlands of Western Europe. Yet little is known about the options that might exist for rewilding such landscapes, or about their relative suitability. The present study addresses this knowledge gap by assessing the relative popularity and suitability of different rewilding scenarios in the county of Dorset, south-west England, involving the consultation of local stakeholders. Survey results showed strong support for rewilding among stakeholders, with the reintroduction of beavers (Castor fiber) and pine martens (Martes martes) being especially popular. Yet stakeholder perceptions also differed regarding how rewilding should be defined, and what it comprises. The suitability of the proposed rewilding approaches was measured through a spatial multi-criteria analysis using the following variables: popularity among stakeholders, suitability within relevant land cover types, and suitability at the landscape-scale. Naturalistic grazing and farmland abandonment emerged as the most suitable rewilding options overall, although these were not the most popular choices. Overall, these results suggest that land managers in lowland agricultural landscapes could consider rewilding as one of the land management options available to them, provided that the options being considered are ecologically appropriate and local stakeholders have been consulted. In the UK, such rewilding options might be supported by new national agricultural land use policies currently under development. In areas of continental Europe where agricultural land abandonment is more widespread, policy-makers seeking to address the issue could look towards the EU's wilderness guidelines for potential solutions that promote rewilding while offsetting the costs incurred by local stakeholders. In either context, integrated exploration of stakeholder values and ecological data as presented here can potentially be used to evaluate the relative suitability and popularity of different rewilding approaches, and thereby establish priorities.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1617-1381
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:31525
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:05 Dec 2018 09:42
Last Modified:05 Dec 2018 09:43

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