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Legislative hurdles to using traditional domestic livestock in rewilding programmes in Europe

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-05-06, 06:18 authored by FJ Pérez-Barbería, JA Gómez, Iain GordonIain Gordon
Rewilding is a restoration strategy that aims to return anthropogenic ecosystems to a “self-organized” state, by reinstating trophic complexity through disturbance (e.g. predation, herbivory), dispersal and connectivity. In depopulated areas of Europe, lite versions of rewilding, that maintain but minimize the management of rewilding species (e.g. predators, large herbivores) is gaining support. Livestock rewilding (LR) is a form of rewilding-lite, that uses livestock landraces as keystone species in the restoration of herbivory (the functional integrity of ecosystems) offering ecosystem services, such as ecotourism and the sale of livestock population surpluses, that can mitigate the economic and social effects of rural depopulation. Many challenges remain to implementing LR, including (i) more empirical evidence is required of the feasibility of LR across a variety of habitats and conditions, and (ii) understanding the hurdles that legislation poses for LR, the latter being the aim of this study. To accomplish this, we reviewed the EU legislation on environmental protection, animal health and welfare, identification and traceability, and ownership and civil responsibility, to assess how this might apply to LR. Although there is no specific EU legislation prohibiting LR, the review indicates that it is not clear what legislation applies to LR, as LR’s status lies between that of livestock and wild species. As such the existing legislation can be a serious impediment to the development of LR programmes. We highlight the needs for a legal definition, and status of LR species and their ownership. We propose ways to adapt this legislation to support the application of LR programmes in abandoned areas of EU, for example, by using legal exceptions intended for livestock under extensive animal farming systems.

History

Volume

52

Issue

3

Start Page

585

End Page

597

Number of Pages

13

eISSN

1654-7209

ISSN

0044-7447

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publisher License

CC BY

Additional Rights

CC-BY

Language

en

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • Yes

Acceptance Date

2022-11-29

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Medium

Print-Electronic

Journal

Ambio