The effects of Rewilding on woody-plant regeneration and open-woodland mosaics

The effects of Rewilding on woody-plant regeneration and open-woodland mosaics

Aquatic Ecology

Contact Person:

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

Rewilding is a form of nature restoration that gives room for natural processes so as to regenerate self-sustaining resilient ecosystems. Myriads of rewilding initiatives have emerged across the world over the last decades, yet many of the outcomes of rewilding have not been fully empirically ascertained. A particularly controversial outcome of rewilding concerns its potential impact on woody-plant regeneration, shrub encroachment and the maintenance of open-woodland mosaics with relatively high levels of structural heterogeneity.


In this project we will evaluate how plant regeneration and structural heterogeneity in open-woodland mosaic landscapes is affected by rewilding. In selected rewilding sites we will:

  • measure the vertical and horizontal structural heterogeneity in vegetation
  • characterize plant regeneration and the demographic structure of trees
  • use aerial images to investigate how these have changed over time and space

The student will have the opportunity to interact with a larger team of students at NIOO working on “sister projects” trying to understand the impact of rewilding on biodiversity, Climate Change mitigation & adaptation.


The project will be developed over the coming 6 months (roughly April to September 2024)


Selected rewilding sites in the Netherlands

For who

This project is suitable for an MSc thesis and/or internship, and involves fieldwork and data analysis. A good candidate must show:

  • genuine interest in ecosystem restoration and trophic interactions
  • ability to conduct fieldwork & work in a team
  • experience or interest to learn some basic statistical analyses
  • availability during spring/summer months for developing the project (flexible dates)
  • at least some basic level of English
  • optional: driving license preferred but not strictly required