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Domesticating Rewilding: Interpreting Rewilding in England’s Green and Pleasant Land

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There are many different forms and interpretations of rewilding: the concept and its practice vary from country to country, with distinct interpretations according to its geographical location. Despite the term rewilding having been present in the lexicon for three decades, the concept of rewilding in England has experienced a prolonged developmental stage. This paper argues that a unique form of English rewilding is now emerging, which is distinct from rewilding in other parts of the world. Compared to other locations rewilding in England operates at smaller spatial scales; its ambitions to increase biodiversity, restore ecosystem functioning and increase natural autonomy are somewhat curtailed; it involves higher levels of human intervention; and, perhaps most tellingly of all, it goes by another name – ‘wilding’, ‘wild’ or ‘wilder’ with little mention of the much-maligned prefix ‘re’. This conclusion has been developed following a comparative case study of two English ‘rewilding’ sites (the Avalon Marshes and Wild Ennerdale) involving 49 semi-structured interviews: twelve expert interviews and nineteen and eighteen stakeholder/practitioner interviews at the Avalon Mashes and Wild Ennerdale respectively.
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Keywords: Avalon Marshes; England; Wild Ennerdale; rewilding/wilding; wild/wilder

Affiliations: University of Exeter

Appeared or available online: October 2, 2021

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