CfP POLLEN18: The Political Ecology of Rewilding – Contested values in the context of environmental justice

POLLEN18: Political Ecology Network – Biennial Conference, Oslo, Norway – June 20-22, 2018

The Political Ecology of Rewilding – Contested values in the context of environmental justice

Organizers: Dara Sands and Erik Gómez-Baggethun (Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

Four decades of international environmental policy focused on mitigating and reversing anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss has failed to deliver desirable outcomes and resulted in the alteration of key ecological processes (Gómez-Baggethun & Naredo 2015; Hooper et al. 2012). Rather than addressing systemic issues inherent within the political economy of conservation and development, contemporary conservation measures aimed at addressing biodiversity loss continue to prioritise the expansion of protected areas worldwide, reflected in both international (Aichi Biodiversity Targets) and European policy (Natura 2000 network). It is within this policy framework that rewilding narratives have emerged and are receiving increased attention in conservation circles (Jepson 2016; Taylor 2013; Jørgensen 2015).

The merits of rewilding as a process for enhancing ecological resilience have been widely debated (Nogués-Bravo 2016; Pereira & Navarro 2015; Monbiot 2015). However, more recently, the rewilding discourse has shifted attention towards addressing the complex human – non-human relationships embedded within rewilding practices (Prior & Ward 2016). The extent to which stakeholders regard management decisions as being fair and just is an important determining factor in influencing the severity of conflict within such human – non-human relations (Jacobsen & Linnell 2016). As a result, critical approaches based on improving understanding of whose values are represented and reflected in rewilding management processes are required to identify how the potentially inequitable distribution of benefits and burdens can be effectively recognized and governed.

The growing ubiquity of rewilding initiatives appears to have coincided with large-scale rural land abandonment and increasing imported virtual agricultural land in Europe (Olwig 2016), lending rise to further questions concerning asymmetrical global power relations in the context of biodiversity offsetting and cost-shifting socio-environmental burdens to other global regions (Adams et al. 2014). Therefore, this session will seek to explore the disciplinary lacuna between the rewilding and socio-environmental justice discourses.

We welcome abstracts related, but not limited, to one or more of the following thematic and theoretical foci:

  • Potential distribution of rewilding benefits and burdens across time and space.
  • Role of power relations in the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens in the context of rewilding projects.
  • Global case studies of rewilding projects and community participation.
  • Discussions related to processes connected with rural land abandonment.

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words by 12th December to Dara Sands (

For more information, please contact:

Dara Sands ( or Erik Gómez-Baggethun (



Adams, W.M., Hodge, I.D. and Sandbrook, L., 2014. New spaces for nature: the re‐territorialisation of biodiversity conservation under neoliberalism in the UK. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers39(4), pp.574-588.

Gómez-Baggethun, E. and Naredo, J.M., 2015. In search of lost time: the rise and fall of limits to growth in international sustainability policy. Sustainability Science10(3), pp.385-395.

Hooper, D.U., Adair, E.C., Cardinale, B.J., Byrnes, J.E., Hungate, B.A., Matulich, K.L., Gonzalez, A., Duffy, J.E., Gamfeldt, L. and O’Connor, M.I., 2012. A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change. Nature486(7401), pp.105-108.

Jacobsen, K.S. and Linnell, J.D., 2016. Perceptions of environmental justice and the conflict surrounding large carnivore management in Norway—Implications for conflict management. Biological Conservation203, pp.197-206.

Jepson, P., 2016. A rewilding agenda for Europe: creating a network of experimental reserves. Ecography39(2).

Jørgensen, D., 2015. Rethinking rewilding. Geoforum65, pp.482-488.

Monbiot, G., 2015. What next? Rewilding as a radical future for the British countryside. Wildlife Conservation on Farmland: Managing for Nature in Lowland Farms1, p.291.

Navarro, L.M. and Pereira, H.M., 2015. Rewilding abandoned landscapes in Europe. In Rewilding European Landscapes(pp. 3-23). Springer, Cham.

Nogués-Bravo, D., Simberloff, D., Rahbek, C. and Sanders, N.J., 2016. Rewilding is the new Pandora’s box in conservation. Current Biology26(3), pp.R87-R91.

Olwig, K.R., 2016. Virtual enclosure, ecosystem services, landscape’s character and the ‘rewilding’ of the commons: the ‘Lake District’ case. Landscape Research41(2), pp.253-264.

Prior, J. and Ward, K.J., 2016. Rethinking rewilding: A response to Jørgensen. Geoforum69, pp.132-135.

Taylor, P., 2013. Beyond conservation: A wildland strategy. Routledge.



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