Urban Rewilding
Goals of Urban Rewilding: Getting it right

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series C-040

Urban rewilding aims to improve the quality of life for city dwellers by providing access to nature, reducing air and noise pollution, and mitigating the impacts of climate change. At the same time, it can help to conserve and protect biodiversity, by providing habitats for plants and animals that would otherwise be lost to urbanization.
T here are four main goals for urndertaking an urban rewiling project:

  1. Biodiversity conservation:
    Urban rewilding aims to address the alarming loss of biodiversity in urban areas caused by habitat destruction and fragmentation. By reintroducing native plants and animals, rewilding projects create suitable habitats and provide resources for a variety of species. This helps to support diverse ecological communities and promote the survival of both common and rare species within urban environments. By increasing biodiversity, urban rewilding contributes to the overall resilience and stability of urban ecosystems.
  2. Ecosystem services:
    Urban rewilding recognizes the critical role that ecosystems play in providing valuable services to urban populations. By restoring natural habitats and creating green spaces, rewilding projects contribute to improved air and water quality. Native plants help filter pollutants, absorb carbon dioxide, and release oxygen, thereby enhancing air quality and reducing the impacts of air pollution in cities. Green spaces also act as natural sponges, absorbing and filtering rainwater, thus mitigating stormwater runoff and reducing the risk of flooding. Furthermore, rewilded areas can regulate temperature, creating cool microclimates and mitigating the urban heat island effect. These ecosystem services contribute to creating healthier, more livable urban environments.

  3. Urban rewilding clearly has environmental,
    social and economic benefits that accrue
    to a city's residents

  4. Human well-being:
    Urban rewilding recognizes the importance of nature for human health and well-being. Access to green spaces and exposure to natural elements have been linked to numerous physical and mental health benefits. Rewilded urban areas provide opportunities for recreation, exercise, and relaxation, which can reduce stress and improve mental health. Accessible and inviting green spaces also encourage physical activity, which is essential for combating sedentary lifestyles and related health issues. Additionally, rewilding projects can promote community engagement and social cohesion by providing shared spaces for residents to connect, collaborate, and engage with nature.
  5. Climate resilience:
    Urban rewilding contributes to building climate resilience in cities, which are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rewilded areas help mitigate the urban heat island effect, where cities tend to be hotter than surrounding rural areas due to extensive concrete and asphalt surfaces. By incorporating vegetation and green infrastructure, rewilding projects create cooler microclimates, reduce energy consumption for cooling, and improve human comfort. Moreover, rewilded spaces can help manage stormwater by absorbing and slowing down the flow, reducing the risk of flooding during heavy rainfall events. Native plants in rewilded areas also contribute to carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
Urban rewilding addresses multiple environmental, social, and health challenges by conserving biodiversity, providing valuable ecosystem services, promoting human well-being, and enhancing climate resilience in urban environments. By reintroducing nature into cities, urban rewilding seeks to create harmonious and sustainable coexistence between people and the natural world.

APPENDIX: And Nature Restoration? Nature restoration refers to the process of repairing, revitalizing, or renewing ecosystems that have been damaged or degraded by human activities. It involves the implementation of various strategies and actions to reverse the negative impacts on the environment and restore its natural functions and biodiversity.

Nature restoration can take place in a variety of habitats, including forests, wetlands, grasslands, coastal areas, and freshwater ecosystems. The specific methods and techniques employed depend on the type and extent of degradation, as well as the goals and resources available for restoration.

Some common approaches to nature restoration include:

  • Habitat restoration: This involves recreating or rehabilitating habitats that have been destroyed or fragmented. It may include reforestation, wetland reconstruction, or the establishment of native vegetation in degraded areas.

  • Species reintroduction: In cases where certain species have become extinct or locally extinct, restoration efforts may involve reintroducing them into their former habitats. This can help restore ecological balance and promote biodiversity.

  • Erosion control and soil restoration: Measures are taken to prevent erosion, improve soil quality, and prevent nutrient loss. Techniques like terracing, reforestation, and the use of cover crops can help stabilize soil and restore its fertility.

  • Water management: Restoration efforts often focus on improving water quality, restoring natural water flow patterns, and reducing pollution. This may involve measures such as constructing wetlands, removing dams, or implementing sustainable water management practices.

  • Biodiversity conservation: Conservation actions aim to protect and restore endangered or vulnerable species, as well as their habitats. This may involve creating protected areas, implementing wildlife management plans, and reducing threats such as poaching and habitat destruction.

  • Community engagement and education: Successful restoration often requires the involvement of local communities and stakeholders. Community engagement programs and educational initiatives can help raise awareness, build support, and ensure the long-term sustainability of restoration efforts.

Nature restoration plays a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, conserving biodiversity, and promoting sustainable development. By restoring ecosystems, we can enhance their resilience, support wildlife populations, and provide valuable ecosystem services that benefit both humans and the environment.

Other terms that are closely related to the concept of urban rewilding include:

  • Urban greening
  • Urban biodiversity conservation
  • Ecological/ecosystem restoration
  • Biophilic Cities
  • Nature-based solutions
These terms and concepts share a common goal of incorporating nature, biodiversity, and ecological principles into urban areas to create more sustainable, resilient, and livable cities. Each approach emphasizes the benefits of nature for human well-being, environmental conservation, and the promotion of healthy urban ecosystems.


  • Biodiversity: The variety of plant and animal species, their genetic diversity, and the ecosystems in which they exist, often used as a measure of the overall health and resilience of an ecosystem.

  • Biophilic design: design influenced by the idea of biophilia, an innate human attraction to nature; designs aim to connect occupants to the natural world.

  • Brownfield Remediation: The process of cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned or contaminated industrial sites, transforming them into usable spaces with restored ecological functions.

  • Carbon sequestration: the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  • Community Gardens: Shared spaces where individuals or groups cultivate plants, vegetables, and fruits, fostering community engagement, improving access to fresh produce, and enhancing urban green spaces.

  • Conservation Easement: A legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization that restricts future development on the land to protect its natural values and promote biodiversity conservation.

  • Ecological Restoration: The process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed, with the aim of reestablishing its ecological functionality and biodiversity.

  • Ecosystem services: the benefits that ecosystems provide for humans such as water and air purification.

  • Ecotone: The transitional area between two different ecosystems, such as the boundary between a forest and a meadow, which often supports a unique mix of plant and animal species.

  • Green Infrastructure: The network of interconnected natural and semi-natural spaces, such as parks, green roofs, and street trees, designed to support urban ecosystems and provide various environmental benefits.

  • Green Roof: A vegetated roof system that consists of plants, soil, and drainage layers, designed to provide insulation, reduce stormwater runoff, and create habitat for plants and wildlife.

  • Greenway: A linear open space, often following natural features such as rivers or old railway lines, that provides recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and connectivity between urban areas.

  • Native Species: Plant and animal species that occur naturally in a specific region and have evolved and adapted to the local ecological conditions over time. Non-native species, on the other hand, can complete for an ecology's resources, alter habitats, transmit disease, distrupt ecosystems or have negative economic impacts.

  • Permeable Pavement: A type of pavement designed to allow water to infiltrate through the surface and into the ground, reducing stormwater runoff and promoting groundwater recharge.

  • Pollinator-Friendly Plantings: Plantings that include a variety of native flowering plants, specifically chosen to attract and support pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds.

  • Rain Garden: A shallow depression or planted area designed to capture and absorb rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces, reducing stormwater pollution and recharging groundwater.

  • Urban Agriculture: The practice of cultivating crops, raising livestock, or keeping bees within urban areas, contributing to food production, community resilience, and the greening of cities.

  • Urban Forest: A collection of trees and other vegetation within an urban area that provides numerous benefits, including improved air quality, temperature regulation, and wildlife habitat.

  • Urban Heat Island Effect: The phenomenon where urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to surrounding rural areas due to human activities, such as the abundance of heat-absorbing surfaces and reduced green spaces.

  • Urban Rewilding: The process of restoring and reintegrating natural elements into urban environments to enhance biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the overall well-being of both humans and wildlife.

  • Wildlife Corridor: A linear pathway or strip of habitat that connects fragmented urban green spaces, allowing wildlife to move freely and facilitating biodiversity conservation.

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