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Holly Deary's presentation during the wilderness symposium at the 3rd European Conference on COnservation Biology. Holly concludes (among other things) that Conservation strategies founded upon wildness remain controversial among many Scottish land managers – such challenges must be overcome to move Scotland’s wild strategy forward.
„The Return of the Wild: conceptions of rewilding in the Scottish Highlands‟ Holly Deary,Supported by Scottish Land & Estates and the Association of Deer Management Groups
Presentation Outline• Restoring ‘wildness’ to the Scottish Highlands• Distinctness of the Scottish wild land context,• Challenges to moving Scotland’s wild land agenda forward,
Restoring WildnessPrinciples• Landscape scale conservation,• Promoting wilderness qualities,• Ecological processes as paramount,• Minimal intervention, Practices ....................... • Manipulation of grazing pressure, i.e. Removing sheep, culling deer, • Restoration of hill tracks, • Restructuring plantations, „Long term vision for core reserves of wild land where natural processes dominate‟
Unanswered Questions• What level of agreement is there over definitions of ‘rewilding’/’enhancing wildness and methods for its practical application?’• How compatible is enhancing wildness with our current subscriptions to more conventional conservation strategies?• Does ‘managing for wildness’ make sense in the Scottish context as a land management strategy?• What are the primary fault lines associated with ‘managing for wildness’ in Scotland?
A „wild land‟ Delphi model Eclectic mix of 18 estates(i.e. Private, NGO, Trust ownership) An adapted Delphi model - Structured communication system, - Series of rounds, - Expert panel,
The „rewilding‟ Fault-lines Ambiguous terminology Uniquely Scottish context Lack of conceptual clarity Integrating agendas Clashing imperatives
1. Ambiguous terminology• Lack of consensus as to what the emergent environmental ethic means,• Lack of understanding as to how it should be manifested in the landscape,• Interchangeable terminology• Conflicting views of the concept in accordance with parameters used to understand ‘wild land’,
2. Distinctly Scottish Wild Land Context Heavily managed landscapes to retain the high biodiversity and socio-economic benefits associated with them, Conservation must co-exist with other land management practices in Scotland, Distinct Scottish ‘wild land’ terminology framework, “There are some large areas of Scotland, particularly in the north and west, whose largely semi-natural landscapes show minimal signs ofhuman influence” (Scottish Natural Heritage, 2012)
Is rewilding, with its implicit values of naturalness,authenticity and historical fidelity, capable of coping withthe complexity of natural and cultural heritage in theScottish Highlands?
3. Lack of conceptual clarity• Does managing for wildness in a cultural landscape make sense?• Where is the cultural value of these hybrid landscapes positioned within the restoration framework?• What is the teleological state of naturalness that some of these estates are aspiring to?
4. Integrating agendas• Incompatibility between current nature conservation agenda and ‘wild land agenda’......• Restrictiveness of a policy framework still founded upon the ‘nature under threat’ approach to conservation.....• Holistic, landscape scale, minimal intervention approach vs. targeted biodiversity agendas.......
5.Clashing imperatives• Sterilisation of the Highlands.....• Embrace Scotland’s cultural heritage......• Reconciling ‘wildness’ with more traditional land uses....
Conclusions to date.... Approaches for managing wild land in Scotland are diffuse & disparate, and depend on the parameters of ‘wild land’ employed, Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage necessitates a pragmatic understanding of rewilding in the same way that wild land provides a pragmatic understanding of wilderness, Conservation strategies founded upon wildness remain controversial among many Scottish land managers – such challenges must be overcome to move Scotland’s wild strategy forward, Restoration through active interventions.