Identifying policy barriers to the uptake of rewilding – a social-ecological approach

   School of Life Sciences

  , Dr Davide Natalini  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Research Group

Applied Ecology Research Group (AERG)

Proposed supervisory team

Dr Helen Wheeler (AERG, Anglia Ruskin University)

Dr Davide Natalini (Global Sustainability Institute)


Environmental decision-making, restoration, rewilding

Summary of the research project

Rewilding has gained significant attention internationally as an emerging and exciting approach for restoration for sustainable ecosystems but requires stakeholder support for its successful implementation. Rewilding aims to restore interactions between different ecosystem components to create more resilient ecosystems able to withstand the more extreme perturbations expected under changing climate.

To successfully address sustainability challenges, rewilding must both promote biodiversity and meet human needs. To receive support, the policies must support stakeholder goals and values and needs and expectations of stakeholders must inform how and in what contexts we attempt rewilding. In prominent UK examples, rewilding projects have failed due to a lack of local support. Conservation conflicts, whereby stakeholders have divergent conceptions of future landscapes may undermine conservation efforts and cause them to ultimately fail.

Farmers and landowners are affected by rewilding activities near their land and face decisions about whether to engage in rewilding activities on their land. These two decisions will determine the uptake of rewilding. Rewilding has three core ecological aims: increasing food web complexity (such as through reintroducing predators and herbivores), increasing connectivity of rewilded land (to aid species dispersal) and allowing natural disturbance regimes (such as allowing periodic flooding). Rewilding aims to move to low-intervention landscapes. By reducing human intervention, we increase uncertainty of ecosystem trajectories. Policies designed to further these objectives may be seen to negatively impact landowners and farming communities and may generate behaviours which are ultimately damaging unless they are well designed. The PhD will investigate the impact of policy decisions on uptake of rewilding activities through examining stakeholder responses to environmental policies using a range of methods such as Q-methodology and agent-based modelling.

Where you'll study



This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available.

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Biology PhD. In the section of the application form entitled 'Outline research proposal', please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Biological Sciences (4)

Register your interest for this project