The Many Meanings of Rewilding: An Introduction and the Case for a Broad Conceptualisation

Environmental Values 27 (4):331-350 (2018)
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Abstract

In this paper, I (1) offer a general introduction of rewilding and (2) situate the concept in environmental philosophy. In the first part of the paper, I work from definitions and typologies of rewilding that have been put forth in the academic literature. To these, I add secondary notions of rewilding from outside the scientific literature that are pertinent to the meanings and motivations of rewilding beyond its use in a scientific context. I defend the continued use of rewilding as a single term, despite its seemingly disparate usages, and I advance a clustered concept of eight overlapping characteristics as a way to conceptualise these. I argue that this breadth helps in understanding the wider interest in rewilding as an emerging environmental phenomenon. In the paper's second part, I turn to three key issues in environmental philosophy in order to connect rewilding with the historic themes of: (1) the exclusion of humans from wild or wilderness places, (2) the ontological purity of wilderness areas through their non-human origins and history, and (3) cultural landscapes and notions of place. I suggest that rewilding carries on some of the main themes of the wilderness debate, but considering rewilding broadly allows tensions and novel questions to manifest that are important to how rewilding should be discussed and understood going forward.

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Andrea R. Gammon
Delft University of Technology

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