Defining rewilding for Scotland's public sector: research findings

Main findings of research investigating debates around the term ‘rewilding’, its relevance in a Scottish context, and to propose a working definition of the term suitable for use by the public sector in Scotland


I am pleased to introduce this research identifying a formal definition of 'rewilding' suitable for reference by the Scottish Government and wider public sector.

Our vision is to empower communities to benefit from the opportunities presented by nature restoration and the journey to net zero, as part of our work towards a Just Transition. This vision supports the wider goals of the Scottish Government, including commitments set out in the 2022-23 Programme for Government.

Rewilding is a new term increasingly used within conservation, which is now being discussed in Scotland and used by some within the context of green land investment activities. However, to date, there have been a range of different understandings of the term 'rewilding' and its meaning, which has led to challenges.

By engaging with debates around rewilding, considering its use and relevance in a Scottish context, and reflecting the views of a range of stakeholders, this report makes an important contribution to a shared understanding of rewilding and its definition.

I endorse the new definition of rewilding for use by the Scottish Government and the wider Scottish public sector.

The new definition and key research findings will be used to inform policy development in this area, and are intended to offer a practical reference point for policy makers and wider stakeholders.

Professor Mathew Williams, Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Scottish Government.
July 2023



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