Utrecht, April 2022 – On March 18th, the Institute for Science in Society (ISiS) received the great news that an Nationale Wetenschapsagenda (NWA/Dutch Research Agenda) 8-year, 5 million research proposal was granted. Fantastic news! The project is called ‘The Dutch Wildlife Comeback: Dynamic co-management of human-wildlife interactions in the Netherlands’ (WildlifeNL) – we could not be more excited to be part of this!

Wildlife such as wild boar, wisent, wolf, and several ungulate species and semi-domesticated large grazers are returning to the Netherlands on a large scale. This return leads to tensions between people and wildlife and calls for new forms of wildlife management. In a country as densely populated as the Netherlands, humans and wildlife constantly interact, knowingly, or more often, unknowingly. These behavioural interactions are a form of interspecies communication that current wildlife management often ignores by focusing on managing wildlife numbers. WildlifeNL considers humans as integral parts of the natural system, acknowledging the role of interspecies communication processes between wildlife and humans as sympatric organisms. From this perspective, the project proposes to develop an innovative interspecies communication approach to wildlife management in the Netherlands, by combining the latest insights from environmental social science, philosophy, behavioural ecology, and engineering. WildlifeNL will develop new technologies, governance arrangements and communication strategies that influence the behaviour of wildlife ánd people to enable low-conflict human-wildlife coexistence. Moreover, together with all stakeholders, the project will explore various scenarios for how sustainable human-wildlife coexistence may look like, for example by playing a serious game. In this way WildlifeNL contributes to the search for a nature-inclusive society in which humans and wildlife can flourish.

The research consortium consists of Universiteit Utrecht, Radboud Universiteit, Fontys Hogeschool, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, BIJ12, PWN, Ministerie van Landbouw Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit, ARK Natuurontwikkeling, Staatsbosbeheer, Natuurmonumenten, Koninklijke Nederlandse Jagersvereniging (KNJV), Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Maasland, Crossbill Guides Foundation, Fantazm and us, Smart Parks!

WildlifeNL is led by 3 co-PIs: Martin Drenthen (Radboud University), Ine Dorresteijn (Utrecht University) and Joris Cromsigt (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences).