The case for passive rewilding: ‘If you love it, let it free’

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Peneda-Geres-National Park has become a cradle of passive rewilding Henrique Miguel Pereira likes to tell the story of a grandmother in the northern mountains of Portugal who had never in her life seen a wild boar. She had spent her life in the village of Castro Laboreiro, nestled in the remote peaks of what is now Peneda-Geres National Park. It should have been prime boar territory, but after centuries of farming and human influence, large mammals had all but disappeared from the area. It was social and economic upheaval in the 20th century that accidentally transformed the area into a cradle of what is known as passive rewilding — and ecologists have been watching. These days it is almost impossible to avoid seeing wild boar in the region, and even the ibex, which had been regionally extinct for 90 years, has returned. Passive rewilding is an approach to restoration that allows natural processes to restore themselves. It accepts a certain level of chaos as forests reclaim territory , species return, and natural disturbances such as fires, pests and floods kick in. With global biodiversity being discussed at the United Nations COP15 this week , passive rewilding is one approach […]

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