Responsible species reintroductions are a vital conservation tool, fundamental to the UK being able to reverse its position as one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.
That is why, at ZSL, we believe that the Government is wrong to say that reintroducing British species is ‘not a priority’ for its nature restoration efforts.
As a science-driven conservation organisation, ZSL is clear that the only way to resolve the nature crisis is through approaches that are proven to work. We know that reintroducing endangered British species does work. Evidence shows that species reintroductions played a critical role in avoiding the extinction of 16 bird species and 10 mammal species between 1993-2020 (Bolam et al. 2021). It is essential that nature recovery plans in the UK include all the proven tools at our disposal – and this must include reintroductions.
The Government is rightly putting resources behind habitat restoration efforts, but these alone are not enough to restore nature across the UK in a meaningful way. Habitats need wildlife in order to flourish, and as a nation of islands, land-based wildlife movement is limited. As such, UK nature is simply not able to recover without a combination of restoring habitats and restoring wildlife.
For this reason, we encourage the Government to give species reintroductions their proper place in its strategy. Instead of arbitrarily dismissing their value in the face of the science, the Government should encourage their responsible use.
ZSL and our many national partners are experts in the design and delivery of species reintroduction programmes. We have been leading the way on responsible species reintroductions - from hazel dormice to wild oysters to corncrakes - for decades and will continue to do. Species reintroductions are an essential tool for restoring vibrant British habitats, and we must put evidence-based interventions like this at the heart of our nature recovery efforts.
Climate change and human activity have pushed our precious planet to its limit, causing the devastating loss of so many habitats and species. From lab to field, hands on and behind the scenes, we’re leading the future of conservation, shaping agendas and influencing change to support better life, health and living for people and wildlife.