Terms of Reference


Resolution 7.085 (Rewilding) was adopted by IUCN Members by electronic vote in October 2020. Initially sponsored by the Zoological Society of London (with co-sponsors Bristol Clifton and West of England Zoological Society, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Rewilding Europe, Synchronicity Earth, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF-UK and Zoo Leipzig GmBH), the motion eventually passed with 97% support from Category A members and 95% from Category B/C.

Resolution 7.085 calls for, among others, the creation of an IUCN Rewilding Working Group and provides the following principles for its establishment: i) it is established by the IUCN Director General (not any Commission); ii) it is established in consultation with the Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM); iii) it is inter-disciplinary, cross-commissional, and includes “diverse representatives from the Secretariat, Commissions (including relevant thematic Specialist Groups), Members, the CEM Rewilding Task Force (and any successor body), rewilding practitioners and other relevant experts”. The objectives of the Working Group are detailed further below.

Rationale for the Resolution

– Rewilding has become increasingly prominent in the environmental discourse as a new, cost-effective approach to enhancing biodiversity, connectivity, ecological resilience and ecosystem service delivery. There are yet different uses and interpretations of the word ‘rewilding’, including by the public and donors, which create confusion as to what rewilding means.

– Large rewilding initiatives have emerged, and are emerging, in certain areas across the world (albeit mostly in the Global North), and have gained great practical experience and generated lessons learned. These practical experiences should be synthetised to develop parameters and guidelines for applying rewilding approaches.

– Many IUCN Members have different perspectives on rewilding, so it will be important to have IUCN endorsement of a centralized, neutral, science and evidence-driven viewpoint.

– Rewilding and restoration are related concepts that both have a place in ecosystem stewardship. There is a need for broad consultation and strong stakeholder engagement to reconciliate definitions and visions around rewilding and restoration, and to build international standards around these related concepts.


The Resolution is time bound, with a time frame set by the next IUCN World Conservation Congress (most likely happening in summer 2025). Within this timeframe, the rewilding Working Group is formally mandated by IUCN Members to:

(1) agree, based on the work of the CEM Rewilding Task Force, a clear definition and understanding of rewilding, including adopting rewilding principles;

(2) work with the CEM Rewilding Task Force, SSC Specialist Groups on Conservation Translocation, Invasive Species, Wildlife Health, and Conservation Genetics, as well as the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), to develop parameters and guidelines for applying rewilding approaches that reflect the need for careful assessment of the relative risks and rewards to ecosystems and local communities affected by land-use changes;

(3) submit to Council an evidence-based IUCN Policy on rewilding, appropriately cross-linked to existing IUCN policy on ecosystem restoration, to guide the Director General, Commissions, Members and other agencies on best practice;

Beyond these objectives, it is possible that the group may be invited to engage in other agenda items.

Role and structure

The organizational structure of the working group will consist of two Co-Chairs, an IUCN Secretariat focal point, and the Working Group Members. The Working Group may be supported by a programme officer if resources can be secured.

The role of Working Group is to support of the development of strategy and activity related to delivering on the objectives mentioned in Resolution 7.085 (i.e, the production of a clear definition and understanding of rewilding; the development of guidelines for applying rewilding approaches, and the submission of an evidence-based IUCN Policy on rewilding to Council). This role will include the identification of opportunities to be pursued to achieve these delivery objectives, and the development of clear plans of action to address priorities, integrating activity across research, data, skills and partnerships.

Terms of Reference

Working Group Members will:

– Consolidate and review the existing evidence base on rewilding and associated issues;

– Support the drafting of an evidence-based IUCN Policy on rewilding;

– Facilitate consultation with a wider consultative group and solicit inputs on the initial draft of the policy;

– Facilitate engagement with governments, organizations, businesses and other groups or individuals that can support the implementation of the Resolution;

– Assist the Chairs in securing funding to support the implementation of the Resolution;

– Assist the Chairs in monitoring progress towards Resolution objectives.

Ways of working

The core membership of the Working Group will meet at regular intervals, through meetings convened and mediated by the co-Chairs.

The Working Group will maintain an open and active web presence, disclosing Terms of Reference, details of members, progress updates and contact details for the co-Chairs.

Input on draft documents put together by the Working Group may be sought from a consultation group, regrouping people who have expressed an interest in supporting the implementation of Resolution 7.085.

The Working Group members will work based on the principles of consensus.

Expectations of Members

Members need to be prepared to:

– Put in the required time and effort into the role

– Be reliable communicators (responding to emails and connecting with relevant experts and networks both within IUCN and externally)

– Make themselves available for meetings of the Working Group

– Agree to IUCN’s Code of Conduct

– Sign a Conflict of Interest declaration

Communication with the media on the Working Group activities and objectives by working group members will need to be agreed with the co-chairs in advance.

Appointment Process

1. The membership policy for the Working Group is focused on having an active, widely skilled and globally representative group of members that are fully supportive of the rationale and activities of the group.

2. Appointments are for the initial duration of the Working Group (until the next IUCN Congress). Named individuals, as opposed to organizations, are appointed as Working Group members.

3. In constituting the core membership of the Working Group, a good balance in gender, geographic representation, and expertise will be sought.

Status and reporting

The Working Group is a voluntary Working Group organized under the auspices of IUCN and whose work, ultimately, is accountable to IUCN. The Working Group co-chairs will report annually on progress against the Resolution via the IUCN Resolutions portal (and Working Group members will be invited to review and comment on this report); this report will be made available to the IUCN Director General and to the Chairs of the SSC and CEM and be made publicly available.