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A Late Introduction..

August 29, 2021

We have been here living la vida loca since the start of May. It feels like no time at all, but soon we’ll be leaving this magical place and passing the baton to the next stewards. It’s only now that we’ve realised we neglected to fully introduce ourselves!

So! We are Jack & Meg, a couple from the UK. Meg is a Wildlife Researcher, showing itself in her day-to-day life, practically all of her hobbies and her kindle. Show me an animal that she hasn’t attempted to watercolour. She recently returned from India where she was studying bat bioacoustics and otter behaviour. Jack jestingly describes himself as ‘a man of the world’ but Meg would agree. He’s a dab hand at knocking up a water system and a dinner to rival the very best. He spends his spare time here playing guitar and fixing things.

We thought we’d use the next two blogs to blather on about things that are close to our heart. I’ll begin today, and next time Jack will be writing of one of his passions… compost toilets (actually building them, but you get the idea).

With the IPCC 2021 Climate report coming out last month and various ‘we’re doomed’ articles having been published worldwide, I’m sure that climate change and species loss are no stranger to any readers of this blog. BUT before you wearily sigh and scroll to exit the page, instead of discussing already vastly-addressed and miserable facts and figures, I’m here to present you with a positive and innovative solution, a technique that has recently been creating huge waves in the conservation world, and better yet – in most cases it takes minimal effort to achieve maximum results. Sounds too good to be true, right?

One of the reasons I was so eager to work here was that the reserve is such an example of this methodology. Rewilding. Letting nature do it’s own thing by relinquishing overbearing management. Reserva Las Tangaras was once livestock-heavy pasturage, used mainly to breed cows to sell for meat in Quito. The short-cut grazing of the cattle will have meant that minimal vegetation could subsist there, and the wildlife that did inhabit areas surrounding the pasture would have been restricted by fences, specifically designed to prevent creature entry or exit. LifeNetNature saw the rewilding potential for the 50-hectare farmland and sought to purchase it. Now after 20 years, this once-farmland is a bustling mix of primary & secondary forest, on one side neighboured by 20,000 hectares of the protected forest ‘Bosque Protector Mindo Nambillo’ and thus, teeming with life. Any boundaries were removed to let wildlife move freely through the surrounding landscape. For years now, steward’s (such as ourselves) jobs have been to protect the space and the abundance of species therein, from harm or extraction. This removal of control has allowed natural processes to take over throughout the reserve and thus restored food webs, natural dispersal and resilience to disturbances.

As a result of this thriving Wildlife Sanctuary, LifeNetNature and teams of volunteers are able to utilise the Reserve twice a year to study the abundant and diverse birdlife and the impacts that different environments have on their diversity. Sharing this space with likeminded visitors, and the sheer authentic wilderness it provides them, gives proof that if nature is given chance to heal, it can bounce back.

In evidence of the bounce-back here at the reserve, we recently found a ‘Blue-groin Rain Frog’ on one of our trails that explores secondary forest. Secondary Forest is a woodland area that has regrown after human disturbance, and is usually characterised by a minimal canopy structure, less diversity and smaller trees. It was particularly exciting as this specific rain frog has historically been closely tied to Primary Forest (pristine, untouched forest that still exists in its original condition) on account of that habitat’s complexity. Finding the Blue-groin Rain Frog in this new area is definitely something to celebrate as it shows the development of our Secondary Forest and it’s progression to more complex systems.  

In the Reserve’s case, the rewilding has come without much effort. The Bosque Protector forest spread quickly onto this land once fields had ceased to be cleared for cattle, with its seeds dispersed by birds or the wind, from which followed small mammals like Neotropical Squirrels and Nine-banded Armadillos attracting the larger predators such as Pumas and Ocelots, whilst the freshly grown vegetation attracted the larger vegetarians like the Spectacled Bears and White-tailed Deers. Seemingly simple. However, the tools that are employed to rewild can range widely in scale and from place to place. They can be applied incrementally over years, or solely once but they are expressed differently everywhere as different countries have different ecological histories, cultural attitudes towards nature, conservation traditions and thus different approaches for achieving the best results.

Nevertheless in 2016, a general classification of the four main rewilding approaches was formed to give a synthesis of acquired information and a light framework from which to work upon 1, namely:

Trophic Rewilding

This is defined as ‘restoring big wilderness areas based on the regulatory role of large predators’. In a number of ecological cases it has been shown that if the carnivores at the ‘top of the food chain’ are reintroduced or preserved into degraded habitats, then their large impact will cause smaller positive impacts to trickle down the food chain (this is called a trophic cascade) and therefore benefit a broad assemblage of genera, producing a healthy and functioning ecosystem.

Yellowstone National Park is a key example of this rewilding initiative; in the mid-1990s Grey Wolves were reintroduced into YNP after many decades and showed startling effects on the area. Before this, the over-grazing of elk was causing the decline of upland woodland habitats and coyote populations were increasing exponentially which resulted in the decline of many smaller species, their prey. The beneficial impacts of the wolves were almost immediately evident – elk populations were controlled which allowed declining species of tree to recover such as cottonwood, aspen and willow. The recovery of willow lead to the recovery of the park’s dwindling aquatic ecosystems. This, in turn, supported the resurgence of beavers which had similarly become extinct in the region. The new wolf pack also displaced many coyotes, allowing red foxes who shared the same prey base to recover. Furthermore, the elk carcasses that the wolves discarded were found to benefit an extensive range of scavenger species such as cougar, wolverine, grizzly bear and raven. This shows the far-reaching impact that one species can have.


LifeNetNature are currently trying to protect the YNP wolves, by lobbying for a safety buffer area to prevent the trophy hunting and trapping that is occurring as the wolves occasionally leave the boundaries of the National Park. If you would like more information on this, don’t hesitate to contact

Pleistocene Rewilding

This type of rewilding describes the efforts to restore the ecological potential of ecosystems that existed before the demise of megafauna (animals of more than 45kg that lived during the Pleistocene) 10,000-15,000 years ago (which suspiciously coincides with the expansion of Homo sapiens and our carnivorous diets…). This type of rewilding is typically carried out by introducing relatives or ‘equivalent’ species of the extinct megafauna species. You might have heard of the potential to recreate the Woolly Mammoth using unearthed DNA.. yeah, rewilding isn’t advocating those extremes just yet – this only means using large wild cattle species to replace the magnificent aurochs which used to roam the plains of the world. The large cows would have a similar ecological impact as the Aurochs on the environment (specifically in terms of variable grazing, earth compaction and disturbance) and thus allow the ecosystem which many other species are ultimately and historically evolved for, to flourish.

Translocation Rewilding

This is defined as ‘reintroducing extant (surviving) species to restore dysfunctional ecological processes’. This method is for locations that have lost species that still exist in other areas of the world. A good example of this is currently underway here in South America, where they are reintroducing species such as Giant Anteater, Tapir, Peccary and Jaguar, which have been wiped out from regions by hunting.  

Passive Rewilding

This is defined as ‘the release of ecological processes through reducing human control of landscapes.’ This is what is occurring at the moment at Reserva Las Tangaras and spontaneously in many other regions of the world, through abandonment of cultivation land, small farming and traditional herding practices. This method inspires the inherent natural resilience that nature was so famed for. 

To conclude, they are the four main schemes that are being explored right now, but not all of us have enough space to begin releasing wolves, beavers, lynx or woolly mammoths into our back gardens… the best part is that every little goes a long way.

Here are a few examples of rewilding that you can contribute, at home in your garden or in your daily life which make a difference:

  • Only planting native flowers in your garden / sew a wildflower mix
  • Let the weeds grow! (Who decided they were weeds in the first place?!)
  • Ensure there are wildlife corridors in gardens, such as small hedgehog-sized holes underneath your fences to promote wildlife dispersal
  • Create a log pile or an ‘insect hotel’ for bugs and spiders to enjoy
  • Get educated! There are many wonderful books on the subject which I will include in the notes

I seriously had to cut this blog down, and I wish I could have rambled on forever. There is a booklist below if you wish to explore the topic further. I hope this blog has given you a small insight into this new and exciting prospect and inspired you to look into it yourself! Thank you and hasta la proxima,


“Rewilding is also about the way we think. It is about understanding that we are one species among many, bound together in an intricate web of life that ties us to the atmosphere, the weather, the tide, the soil, the fresh water, the oceans and all of the living creatures on this planet.”

Global charter for rewilding the earth
  • Feral – George Monbiot
  • Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm – Isabella Tree
  • Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery – Paul Jepson & Cain Blythe
  • Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds – Benedict Macdonald
  • Grazing Ecology and Forest History – Frans Vera
  • Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible – Simon Barnes
  • 1 Rewilding is the new Pandora’s box in conservation. D NoguésBravo, D Simberloff, C Rahbek, NJ Sanders. Current Biology 26 (3), R87-R91, 2016.
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