Re-Wilding "nature"

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Like a lot of people, I sense, I'm wary of the re-wilding movement.  This is, I think, because of its pious motivations rather than some of the possible outcomes.  There is a playing God side to it all and a whiff of ethical superiority.

On October 3rd, the Economist has a feature Rewilding in the Scottish Highlands: in the battle between rewilders and traditionalists, the Scottish government is walking on the wild side.  Much of this was familiar material to me but usefully brought up to date.

Cue a letter from an ethicist and an agrologist in last week's edition adding some balance to the argument.  It's so good that it's worth quoting from:

"... your analysis of the rewilding of Scotland missed a deep irony in the effort to create a landscape purified of human influence.  This concept of natural excludes humans, but at the same time envisages a highly managed, human-constructed landscape achieved by human processes, undertaken for human goals, and based on the best human guess of what those landscapes used to be like.

The reality is that it is impossible to go back.  Whatever natural world existed before humans is lost to us for ever.  What is created in the project of rewilding is but a simulacrum of the prehuman ideal.

In addition, this concept of “natural” morally bypasses issues of justice.  This is an exercise of the hyper-wealthy, with a contempt for the lives of people, plants and animals whose home this has been for millennia.  It could be described as a project in environmental colonialism, where those enlightened, wealthy few civilise the locals or take their land in order to make the world as it should be."

For Scotland, also read the Lake District and many other unnatural unwild places, so I hoped St George Monbiot would respond.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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