Wilder nature

Nature is amazing! When left to manage itself, natural processes begin to function more effectively.
Such processes include natural grazing, the roles of predators and scavengers and natural flooding.

Wilder nature

Nature is amazing! When left to manage itself, natural processes begin to function more effectively.
Such processes include natural grazing, the roles of predators and scavengers and natural flooding.

Natural processes

When nature is working properly it provides us with an abundance of clean air, fresh water, carbon storage and flood prevention. It gives us everything from fuel and food to medicine and building materials.

Working properly means that nature is free to work undisturbed in all its breathtaking and beautiful complexity. In such an environment, natural processes are driven by the Earth’s systems and by species doing what they have evolved to do over millennia. For example, a wolf’s activity helps to bring back trees, trees maintain the health of rivers and natural grazing helps thousands of species to thrive in our grasslands.

While we may conduct research and analysis, we can never fully understand the vast, intricate workings of nature. We can observe though. And we can understand that nature is the best manager of natural processes.

Our approaches


Functional landscapes

Natural processes play a vital role in shaping landscapes and ecosystems. Such natural processes include flooding, weather conditions, natural calamities, natural grazing, predation and scavenging.

We are creating space for natural processes like forest regeneration, free flowing rivers, herbivory and carnivory to impact ecosystems. Across the continent, the interaction of these processes leads to constantly evolving landscapes rather than fixed habitats. A forest today can be a grassland in a few years, and vice versa. Understanding this dynamic – the ever-changing habitats in space and time – is the key to preserving Europe’s rich biodiversity.

(C) 2011 Staffan Widstrand

Wetland restoration

We aim to restore valuable wetland areas that provide multiple benefits to nature and people. They serve as natural filters for the waters of the Danube, provide spawning and feeding areas for migratory fish and water birds, protect coastal areas from flooding, and make soil more productive. In the Danube Delta we are working on the large-scale reflooding of former polders, as well as reconnecting lakes with the river again. From a technical viewpoint the restoration means removing obsolete dams and dykes, renewing or cleaning out channels, and other hydraulic works.

Mykhailo Nesterenko

Steppe restoration

Steppe areas are very valuable natural systems, home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Sadly only 4% of our steppes of remain untouched. The rest has been ploughed and used for agriculture. Our efforts involve conserving and restoring the Danube region’s remaining steppe areas, particularly the picturesque Tarutino Steppe, which was also partly destroyed a few years ago. Work will include the collection of seeds in wild steppe areas, sowing of ploughed areas and the reintroduction of native large herbivores species to ensure natural grazing.

Staffan Widstrand

Forest restoration

We aim to restore gallery and delta forest across the Danube delta region. On Zhebriyansky Ridge of the Danube Biosphere Reserve, pines which were planted some decades ago by Izmail Forestry will be replaced with indigenous forest species .This will result in a more resilient forest landscape, more resistant to the forest fires and droughts that have become more frequent due to climate change. The dunes will also be restored to a more natural, opened up condition, boosting floral diversity.

Andrey Nekrasov / Rewilding Europe

Natural grazing

Natural grazing is an important ecological process. Large herbivores maintain natural meadows, support germination of herbs and trees, and can even open closed forests through debarking or uprooting trees. A large part of Europe’s biodiversity is based around open grassland, mosaic landscapes and their transition to forest edges, open woodland and groves, which all rely on herbivorous grazing for their existence. As large natural areas become abandoned, they overgrown with shrubs and forests as a result, so their biodiversity is declining.

We return Europe’s native herbivores in significant and naturally balanced numbers to the lands where they once belonged.

Species we are focusing on

Wild horses

Wild horses play a key role in ecosystems through their grazing behaviour, seasonal migration, daily routes, trampling and latrines. For rewilding, we are using primitive breeds that are most closely related to the extinct European wild horse, such as konik horses and hutsul horses. They are well adapted for wild conditions. Through their grazing, horses offer space for open land species like bushes, herbs, grasses and the accompanying insects and birds.

Water buffalo

Water buffaloes are well suited to the environment in the Danube Delta. They adapt better to wet conditions and poor quality vegetation than cattle, with their delta diet including young reeds. As large bovines they open up the scrub and reedbeds, creating pools and puddles which are home to many insects, amphibians and fish. They are also great seed distributors, carrying seeds of more than 200 plant species in fur and in their digestive system.


The auroch is the ancestor of all cattle and thereby the most important animal in the history of mankind. It is also a keystone species for many European ecosystems, but was hunted to its extinction in 1627. Through their grazing, the Tauros – auroch’s descendant – is gradually opening up the landscape for other species, such as wild boar, golden jackal and numerous wetland birds. Through selective breeding, we want tauros to occupy the niche the auroch once filled.

STAFFAN WIDSTRAND / Rewilding Europe

Landscape Vision for the Danube Delta

In 2001 WWF together with experts and partners developed a document “Vision for the Danube Delta”. It was a first comprehensive attempt to understand the key driving natural processes behind the Danube Delta landscape.

Now, moving further from the vision of 2001 and the restoration model projects that were implemented across the region that demonstrated how and why to restore the delta, we are embarking on a large scale thinking what restoration means for the complex Danube Delta landscape and how this restoration may be achieved, which processes need to be restored on a large scale and what elements of this landscape need to be restored to achieve complexity and integrity of the Delta.

Landscape restoration is a bold journey towards ecologically complete delta with prosperous human well-being. We see this restoration process as rewilding of a landscape using modern philosophy and principles. The document will be shared widely in all 3 countries across a wide range of stakeholders and also communicated to general public.

Our main achievements

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