Photo credit: Felinos do Aguai 

On Wednesday 20th March 2024, we celebrated the 4th edition of World Rewilding Day (WRD). This has been a focal point for much of our work at the GRA over the last few months and reflects the growth and transformation the global rewilding movement has undergone over the last year.

This year, the day exceeded our expectations in terms of magnitude, reach and sophistication, demonstrating the hard work that Alliance Partners all around the world have been putting in, and the hope that they have transformed into action.

The dust has begun to settle, and whilst the quantitative analysis of the impact of WRD will be conducted and disseminated over the coming weeks as a report, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what it meant to us as an organisation and what it might mean for the wider movement going forward.

Rhea and a rewilder standing together in Chilean national park

Photo credit: Jan Vincent Kleine, Rewilding Chile

The day brought us all together

One of the overriding sentiments was the joy of feeling a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. WRD transcends both us as individuals and as an organisation. Whilst we had great engagement from our Alliance Partners, this extended much further to seeing extensive activity and engagement from those who we haven’t interacted with directly before.

There were also a few exciting surprises – shoutout to well-known British naturalist, TV presenter and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham for getting involved on X (formerly Twitter), as well as some of the pioneers of our movement such as Kris Tompkins, whose opinion piece in Time magazine was published on the day.

Through our new association with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Geneva, which officially hosts the GRA Secretariat, we published a piece “Celebrating a Healthy Planet on World Rewilding Day” in the SDG Knowledge Hub, which reaches out to large audiences of decision-makers and other professionals worldwide.

It was encouraging to see the diversity of individuals and organisations that interacted with WRD, from ecologists, to financiers, to communicators. This suggests that rewilding is resonating with a wide range of people and has succeeded in penetrating beyond a narrow, conservation-centric audience. We need a diversity of experiences, skills, and partnerships to succeed, so engaging a varied audience is a fantastic development in this critical aspect of continuing to build the movement.

Buffalo is released into the wild

Photo credit: Simalaha Community Conservancy

The power of social media

Another heartening aspect of WRD was that it served as an excellent reminder of the positive power of social media and how technology can be used for the good. This was exemplified through the launch of our new series ‘Rewilding Diaries’, which shines a light on the human stories behind many rewilding initiatives being undertaken by our Alliance Partners around the world.

Often social media can feel superficial and one-dimensional, but one of the highlights of WRD this year was being able to help create an environment where real, meaningful connections can be built within the rewilding movement.

Part of this promise of online technology is the power it offers us to act more cohesively as a movement in these moments. We made some suggestions about this before the day and will continue to develop this approach throughout the year, in partnership with our friends at Hex Digital, our digital-impact advisors, as well as the Global Rewilding Communicators Network.

Events, releases & announcements

Our partners all over the world launched events, announced new series, released books, published scientific evidence and so much more. Rewilding – and the celebration of turning hope into action – brought masses together in ways that exceeded even our wildest expectations.

A crowd gathered for a ceilidh, artists contributed paintings (some of whom had not picked up their paint brushes for a long time), and poems were scribbled down and shared. These all spoke to our hearts and minds.

The Global Rewilding Movement: Our Collective Impact Report

We at the Global Rewilding Alliance were proud to contribute in our own way with the first ever attempt at pulling together a Collective Impact Report for the rewilding movement, bringing together plenty of uplifting rewilding success stories in this wider report that we now expect to be annual.

The Report contributes to all 4 pillars of our work:

  • Convene credible science through our work on Animating the Carbon Cycle, as well as demonstrating the benefits of rewilding such as flood management, wildfire prevention and returning lost species,
  • Influence global policy – by collating the evidence to support the establishment of rewilding as practical, credible, and economically viable, and worthy of implementation into international and national policy,
  • Enable the global movement – by bringing together the work of a diverse range of Alliance Partners,
  • Engage the global public – by producing a compelling and coherent publication that is accessible to the public and easily shared.

Rewilding as a hopeful, practical and innovative solution

The overwhelmingly positive response to our storytelling approach, which focuses on rewilding as a hopeful, practical and innovative solution to the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, suggests this is appreciated. We need to continue in this approach and go further; in addition to the climate and ecological benefits of rewilding, we will build up our emphasis on other co-benefits for people, such as the positive impacts on wellbeing, mental and physical health, and livelihoods.

Two Howler monkeys in the wild

Photo credit: Instituto Fauna Brasil

Looking to the future with the momentum of World Rewilding Day

As well as celebrating their wins and the progress over the past year, many of our Alliance Partners also launched new initiatives. In this way, the day held a space for looking forward as well as back and has propelled the theme of ‘hope into action’ with plenty of momentum.

By looking to the future, we continue to choose optimism, and empower both ourselves as individuals and as a movement to find and enact solutions to the challenges we all face.

We also recognise that in some ways, this is only the beginning. We are only scratching the surface in terms of the potential power of the rewilding movement. At the GRA, we discover new rewilding projects, people, and organisations all the time; on average one new organisation is joining our Alliance each week. So, if you haven’t already, please do sign up for our mailings via our website to hear all about these amazing projects as they join.

For our part, the GRA core team is continuing to build its capacity so that we can elevate and expand World Rewilding Day in 2025 and beyond. We will continue to strive to put #HopeintoAction to fulfil our vision of a world where restored wild lands and seas provide a secure future for people, nature, and the planet.

So, what can you do now?

  • Read our Collective Impact Report to get inspired about the rewilding movement,
  • If you’re a scientist, get involved in gathering evidence for the effectiveness of rewilding as a strategy for nature and climate, or help promote the science that we are producing in your circles,
  • If you’re a policymaker, read our briefings and be in touch if you’d like to talk about how to bring rewilding into your context,
  • If you’re part of a rewilding organisation, consider becoming an Alliance Partner – it’s free and straightforward,
  • If you’re a communicator, consider joining the Global Rewilding Communicators Network – just be in touch with any member of the team,
  • If you’re none of the above but want to help, find your nearest rewilding organisation, and see how you can support them. If you have specialist skills and would like to help the Global Rewilding Alliance, be in touch via the Volunteering form.