Research project REWILD_DE
Sustaining Biodiversity and Creating Ecosystem Service Opportunities through Rewilding – Learning from the Oder Delta
In November 2021, the research project "REWILD_DE - Conservation of biodiversity and valorization of ecosystem services through rewilding - learning from the Oder Delta" started. Scientists and practitioners work together on the potential of rewilding for the restoration of biodiversity and the promotion of nature-based economic development in the model area of the Oder Delta in Western Pomerania. In addition, they investigate the extent to which the experience gained and results obtained are transferable to biodiversity conservation beyond the study region. The project is coordinated by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), project partners are the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), the University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde (HNEE) and the association Rewilding Oder Delta e. V. (ROD) as practice partner in the study area.
The research project REWILD_DE takes up the concept of rewilding using the example of the so far only rewilding area in Germany and addresses scientific and socio-economic questions as well as aspects of practical implementation. What opportunities does rewilding in various forms - such as stream restoration, natural grazing approaches or coexistence with wildlife - offer for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity? What ecosystem services in terms of regional economic and other societal benefits does it provide or support? How can rewilding strengthen regional economic potential? And finally: What role can it play for biodiversity and nature conservation in Germany? The project aims to find answers to these questions and to develop practice-oriented solutions.
During the three-year project period, it will be analysed under which conditions biodiversity and ecosystem services can be valorised through rewilding in order to generate support from the affected stakeholders in the region around the Szczecin Lagoon. This instrumental perspective will be complemented by the development of a "rewilding dialogue" with local people. Through artistic approaches and public relations work, guiding principles are to be discussed and an appreciation for the intangible values of nature is to be promoted. The project is accompanied by a Stakeholder Advisory Board composed of representatives of key regional actors. Finally, the project partners will also assess to what extent the concept is suitable for nature conservation in other areas of Germany.
Rewilding as an innovative conservation concept
Stopping the loss of biodiversity is a central challenge on a global, European and German level. In this context, rewilding has increasingly come into the spotlight in recent years as a particularly promising, participatory and process-oriented method of biodiversity and nature conservation. By re-allowing natural processes, promoting natural wildlife presence and density, and strongly involving local people and stakeholders, rewilding aims to strengthen the adaptive capacity of ecosystems to promote biodiversity and provide so-called ecosystem services. In doing so, economic use of the areas is not ruled out; on the contrary, great importance is attached to strengthening the regional natural economic potential and sustainable value creation. Rewilding also makes a significant contribution to achieving the goals of the current UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.
The concept is being used more and more around the world - in Europe, it is supported in an exemplary way by the organization Rewilding Europe in nine model areas. Since 2015, one of these has extended on both sides of the German-Polish border around the Szczecin Lagoon: the Oder Delta. Initial rewilding efforts began here back in 2012, and since 2019 the newly founded Rewilding Oder Delta e. V. (ROD) association has been networking, bundling and supplementing the activities of a wide range of partners, such as companies or start-ups, and working closely with the region's nature parks.
The project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA) over three years with a total of almost 2 million euros (funding code: 16LW0064K).