NecoV Symposium 26 August 2016

Rewilding with large herbivores: challenges and opportunities for science and practice

Venue: Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
Worldwide natural populations of large herbivores are declining, whereas at the same time there are at present many initiatives to bring them back by introducing them in nature reserves. Instead of nature management, this is increasingly seen as a form of rewilding, where the aim is to allow natural grazing and behavior of the herbivores. Also, the diversity of large herbivores that are introduced in reserves in Europe is rapidly increasing, think for example of European bison, water buffalo and tauros, the latter as replacement of the extinct aurochs. There are experiments to reduce or completely quit hunting of deer in designated areas so that they become less shy and more visible for the public. Whereas in other sites, deer are hunted to reduce the perceived nuisance of high population densities. Scientifically a lot is known about the impact of large herbivores on landscape structure, diversity and ecosystem services, but hardly in the context of these rewilding initiatives, where rewilding practitioners are gaining a lot of experience and knowledge of the ecology and impact of large herbivores in different habitats. The aim of this symposium is to demonstrate the state of the art of ongoing rewilding projects in practice and what scientists know about large herbivore ecology and see if and where science and practice could complement and strengthen each other. Hence, the symposium is meant for both academics and practitioners working with large herbivores.
Summary by Liesbeth Bakker, Chair (Netherlands Institute of Ecology) [download


  • Wouter Helmer (RewildingEurope) - Making Europe a wilder place [download]
  • Joris Cromsigt (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden) - Conservation and ecology of large herbivores [download]
  • Chris Smit (University of Groningen) - Herbivore impact on landscape structure and biodiversity [download]
  • Jens-Christian Svenning (Aarhus University, Denmark) - The science of rewilding with large herbivores - rationale, current state, and open questions and challenges [download]
  • Leo Linnartz (Stichting Ark) - Rewilding in practice: the role of herbivore diversity [download]
  • Large herbivore parade: pitches on rewilding in practice
    • Kraansvlak - Yvonne Kemp Stichting Ark/PWN [download]
    • Hoge Veluwe - Leontien Krul Stichting NP De Hoge Veluwe
    • Amsterdamse  Waterleidingduinen - Leo van Breukelen >Waternet [download]
    • Delleboersterheide - Sietske Rintjema It Fryske Gea [download]
    • Schiermonnikoog - Chris Braat Natuurmonumenten [download]
    • Oostvaardersplassen   - Hans Breeveld Staatsbosbeheer [download]
    • Klompenwaard - Margje Voeten HAS Den Bosch [download]
    • Noordwaard - Theo Boudewijn/ Bureau Waardenburg / Roeland Vermeulen FREE Nature [download]
  • Patrick Jansen (WageningenUniversity) - Using cameras to study herbivores in rewilding sites


For more information, please contact Liesbeth Bakker, e-mail: