Rewilding in a changing climate

Climate change is happening fast, driving some ecosystems well beyond their limits. Conservation policy commonly aims to restore habitats to historical benchmarks or modern likely equivalents. However, as climate changes and species redistribute themselves in response, this may in some circumstances no longer be an option. Rewilding is a novel and rapidly developing concept in ecosystem management, which presents a transformative approach to conserving biodiversity. Originally defined as a conservation method based on ‘cores, corridors, and carnivores’, the term is now broadly understood as the repair or refurbishment of ecosystem functionality through the (re)introduction of selected species. Rewilding could provide a flexible framework for tackling the biodiversity crisis and enhancing ecological resilience, but may sometimes involve supporting the introduction of non-native species. Speakers will debate the pros and cons of designing and managing future-proofed ecosystems, highlighting the potential ecological and socio-economic risks and benefits, and exploring the current barriers to implementation.


Johan du Toit, Utah State University 

Johan du Toit was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where he grew up on a farm surrounded by the savanna biodiversity that inspired his career path.  After completing his university studies in South Africa, he took up a postdoctoral appointment in the US (at Utah State University) before returning to his African roots and accepting a lecturing position at the University of Zimbabwe.  From there, he moved on to become Director of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, and then in 2005 he was recruited back to Utah State University where is currently a professor of ecology.

Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain

Rebecca Wrigley is one of the founders of Rewilding Britain whose mission it is to demonstrate a model for rewilding that works at a scale new to Britain while providing opportunities for communities to flourish. She has worked in the voluntary and public sectors for 25 years, 15 years at senior management level. Rebecca has developed, managed and implemented conservation and community development programmes at local, national and international levels in the UK, Mexico, Uganda and New Zealand. Her particular expertise is engaging local communities in decision-making about the land and its resources.

Chris Thomas, University of York

Chris Thomas works on the ecology, evolution and conservation of biodiversity in the Anthropocene. Chris is interested in understanding how humans have transformed the biological world, and how we might protect the world’s remaining biodiversity.  More broadly, he researches why some species decline and disappear but others are successful, aiming to quantify gains in biological diversity as well as losses; the topic of his recent book, Inheritors of the Earth: how nature is thriving in an Age of Extinction.  His approximately 300 scientific publications have Influenced the development of national and international policies for conservation and climate change, including inputs to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, conservation NGOs, and UK governmental reviews and agencies.  Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and President of the Royal Entomological Society.

Sophie Wynne-Jones, Bangor University

Sophie’s research lies in the fields of rural and environmental geography and policy studies, with a particular focus on stakeholder cooperation and knowledge controversies. She has extensive experience of conducting research with farmers and rural stakeholders on land-use change in the UK. Prior to her current post with Bangor University, she lectured at Aberystwyth University where she also undertook her PhD. Prior to that, she was a research associate with the Wales Rural Observatory, working on policy issues directly for Welsh Government. Sophie is also a Trustee of the Wales Wild Land Foundation, who are running the Cambrian Wildwood in Mid Wales – a partner in the wider Summit to Sea vision  


Attending this event

  • This Science and Conservation Event is free to attend and booking is not required.
  • Venue: Huxley Lecture Theatre, Main Meeting Rooms, ZSL London Zoo. See map.  
  • Underground – Camden Town Station; Nearest bus - no. 274
  • Doors open at 5pm for a 6pm start.
  • Seats are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • A drinks reception for ZSL Fellows and their guests is held from 5 – 5:50pm.  More information on ZSL Fellowship can be found here.
  • The ZSL Library will be open to ZSL Fellows before the event and will offer a talk at 4.45pm on 'How to make the most of your library' or `Art works and archives’.  Please contact for further information.


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