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De-Domestication: Ethics at the Intersection of Landscape Restoration and Animal Welfare

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Abstract:

De-domestication is the deliberate establishment of a population of domesticated animals or plants in the wild. In time, the population should be able to reproduce, becoming self-sustainable and incorporating 'wild' animals. Often de-domestication is part of a larger nature restoration scheme, aimed at creating landscapes anew, or re-creating former habitats. De-domestication is taken up in this paper because it both engages and raises questions about the major norms governing animals and nature. The debate here concerns whether animals undergoing de-domestication should be looked upon as wild or non-wild and the effect this has on questions about how they should be treated. It also concerns the value of nature, and the kind and degree of nature management considered appropriate. The paper first describes actual de-domestication practices and considers the character of human duties to animals in process of de-domestication. Secondly, the paper explores the implications of de-domestication for nature management, focusing on notions of naturalness and wildness. Finally, because the current division of ethical topics, with its dependence upon whether animals and nature are domesticated, hampers rather than helps, a new perspective is offered on the issues raised by de-domestication. More 'thinking outside the box' with regard to animals and nature is recommended.

Keywords: ethics; naturalness; restoration; welfare; wildness

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096327110X485383

Publication date: February 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2011) of 1.467.
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