QLE.20.010 – Dutch Wildlife Comeback: towards smarter models for the coexistence of human and non-human animals

Route: Quality of the living environment

Cluster question: 002 What do humans and nature mean to each other and what is the ideal relationship between the two?

The Netherlands is experiencing a major wildlife comeback. Species like the wolf, ungulates and geese are returning or expand their populations. Others, like the European bison and other large grazers, are (re)introduced. The management of these wildlife species is undergoing a rapid transition: from managing their scarcity towards managing their abundance and impacts on the quality of the living environment. There are strongly conflicting views within society on the future of this transition. Some celebrate the comeback as a major conservation success and emphasize how such species positively benefit ecosystem functioning, biodiversity and human well-being . Others emphasize the negative impacts on our way of living, on economic sectors including agriculture, and on zoonotic disease spread. How can we move forward? To answer this question, we propose to analyze society’s relationship with wildlife as a transition in the interaction between human and non-human animals with a consortium of academic and non-academic partners using insights from social science, political science, philosophy and ecology. Based on our analysis, we will develop alternative future scenarios for human-wildlife coexistence. Current management models are reactive and focus on managing wildlife numbers; their success, however, is increasingly debated. We propose to test innovative ways of managing human-wildlife interactions by exploring models that focus on the pro-active co-management of the behaviours of human and non-human animals. This shift towards managing behaviours is facilitated by the expanding use of novel smart technologies in wildlife management. There is an urgent need to investigate the effectiveness of these methods and other policy instruments, but also the broader ethical and philosophical consequences of an increasing role of technology in human-nature relationships. We will explore these issues in two model landscapes; the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland and the Grenspark Kempen~broek.


behavioral science, co-management, conflict mitigation, human-wildlife interactions, nature-inclusive society, smart technology, social-ecological systems

Other organisations

Natuurmonumenten, PWN, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (RU), Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Maasland, SLU, Smart Parks, Stichting ARK


Organisation Utrecht University, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (UU)
Name Dr. Ine Dorresteijn
E-mail i.dorresteijn@uu.nl
Website https://www.uu.nl/staff/Idorresteijn