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Reviving Europe through Rewilding. New Scientist. March 2016

Extinct wild cattle are being bred back into existence, and horses de-domesticated, in a bold attempt to recreate Europe’s preindustrial landscapes.

ONCE extinct in the wild, some of Europe’s largest grazers are making a comeback thanks to an ambitious programme to reintroduce them.

Four bison were released this month in Maashorst nature reserve in the Netherlands, with four more due to arrive in Veluwe region next month. Another herd is set to roam free in Romania from May. This follows the release of 45 semi-wild konik horses in Croatia and 35 fallow deer in Bulgaria in January.

The controversial efforts even include back-breeding an extinct species of wild cattle, the aurochs. A herd of 20 aurochs lookalikes will be released on Croatia’s Lika plains in May or June.

Some conservationists believe this could boost biodiversity on the plains, which have experienced reduced grazing as people abandon rural lifestyles and leave huge swathes of land untended.

“Many ecosystems are very degraded,” says Paul Jepson, conservation biologist at the University of Oxford. “It’s about reinvigorating landscapes”.

Read the full article in New Scientist here (behind a paywall).

Olive Heffernan

Olive Heffernan is a London-based freelance environment writer. Olive mostly writes about climate change and its impacts, but also writes more broadly on sustainable resource use. Here you can find an archive of her recent articles, link to her Twitter feed and her blog.

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