From restoration to reintroduction: A legal assessment of protection of large carnivores in Europe

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Species reintroduction projects or programmes are an increasingly important tool in the international conservation toolbox. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was the first to define ‘reintroduction’ as ‘an attempt to establish a species in an area which was once part of its historical range, but from which it has become extirpated or become extinct’. Different types of reintroduction exist, ranging from local reintroduction when a species is moved a few kilometers into an area in which it was previously present, to regional and national reintroductions where species are reintroduced into a region or country where they have been extinguished. Despite the inclusion of the concept of reintroduction as a conservation tool in several international and regional legal instruments, its legal scope remains ambiguous. First, it is particularly unclear how and to what extent the obligation to restore protected species engages obligations to reintroduce those species. Second, procedural frameworks for reintroductions of large carnivores need to reflect their contentious nature. Evidence suggests that a rigorous approach to decision-making, participation, risk assessment and implementation are crucial for levels of success. Third, the question arises which obligations apply to reintroduced, and at which point in time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


  • Restoration, Nature protection, Environmental law, large carnivores


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