Forest SIG: Rewilding in abandoned agricultural landscapes: opportunities and impacts

A meeting of the British Ecological Society’s Agricultural Ecology and Forest Ecology special interest groups, co-sponsored by Earthwatch Institute and the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests.

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Abandonment of marginally productive land is taking place at an unprecedented scale worldwide. This rapid form of land-use change has uncertain implications for ecosystem services, including carbon storage and water regulation, nitrogen cycling and soil integrity. Rewilding has been identified as an conservation opportunity for abandoned agricultural land, but such initiatives may have uncertain outcomes for the biodiversity and cultural heritage of semi-natural landscapes, which often have an ancient human management legacy.

The meeting will present evidence around the opportunities and risks of these land-use changes for former agricultural landscapes. Our debate will identify how the greatest benefits of agricultural abandonment can be realised, while identifying areas where this process has the potential to cause environmental harm. The meeting will encourage dialogue towards developing a new framework to identify and protect such vulnerable areas from future changes.

For more information please contact Alan Jones.