Reintroduction is the deliberate release of a species into the wild in an area it used to be established.
In the right circumstances, reintroduction is a powerful way to conserve a species, particularly one on the verge of extinction.
WWT is involved in various reintroduction programmes, including the Great Crane Project which aims to recreate a self-sustaining population of Eurasian cranes in the UK.
But while reintroduction has proven useful, most times it has been tried have not resulted in self-sustaining populations. So in 1998 the IUCN published guidelines covering each phase of a re-introduction project.
Since then we have reviewed reintroductions of waterbirds within African and Eurasia (the area covered by the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement AEWA). We looked at how closely each one followed the guideance.
It varied from 23% for a white-headed duck re-introduction in Hungary to 88% for a corn crake re-introduction in the United Kingdom.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that success is closely correlated with sticking to the IUCN guidelines. However, to have evidence that such broad policy guidelines do actually make a difference to very specific, on-the-ground conservation is significant and the links have rarely been made before.
So we came up with 11 additional recommendations for future waterbird reintroductions, which have now been adopted by 62 countries (the signatories of AEWA).
Since then we have begun working towards two hugely significant reintroductions, Madagascar pochard and spoon-billed sandpiper in East Asia, as well as advising others, including one for lesser white-fronted geese in Scandinavia.