Nature without nurture?

Authors: Hodder, K. and Bullock, J.

Pages: 223-235

ISBN: 9780203860373

DOI: 10.4324/9780203860373

Source: Scopus

Nature without Nurture

Authors: Hodder, K.H. and Bullock, J.M.

Editors: Hall, M.

Pages: 223-235

Publisher: Routledge

Place of Publication: London

ISBN: 9780415871761


In a passionate diatribe against excessive pesticide use on species invading North American ecosystems, Herman 1 proposes that ‘sometimes the best management is no management’. This sentiment is also surprisingly common in Western Europe, perhaps as a backlash against decades of prescriptive conservation management 2, 3. Although focus on virgin wilderness (and stupendous scenery) has been described as one of the true idiosyncrasies in the American character 4 the emotional pull of ‘self-willed land’ has extended across the Atlantic, despite the fact that nearly all European ecosystems are certainly not wilderness in the untrammelled sense 5.

The possibility of stepping back from intensive conservation management and ‘allowing nature to take its course’, has generated considerable support in the UK (e.g. 2, 6-9). Over recent decades there has been increasing interest in landscape scale conservation, and the prospect of creating ‘new wilderness’ areas. For instance, in the early 1990s, the National Parks Review Panel 10 recommended that: A number of experimental schemes on a limited scale should be set up in the [upland] National Parks, where farming is withdrawn entirely and the natural succession of vegetation is allowed to take its course. More recently, re-wilding has been advocated as the optimal conservation strategy for the maintenance and restoration of biodiversity in Europe 11. Specifically, this includes the restoration of grazing and browsing by wild large herbivores i.e. ‘naturalistic’ grazing. The level of interest in this discourse is evidenced by a consortium of 38 ecologists and policy makers who recently placed the consequences of re-wilding as one of top 100 ecological questions of high policy relevance in the UK 12.

This essay explores the well-travelled but poorly mapped terrain of nature and whether it needs to be nurtured, with specific focus on the UK. Whether involved in conservation ecology, ecological restoration, biodiversity management, re-wilding or other related areas, the ultimate purpose is surely to do work that helps to sustain the quality of life on earth. With this in mind, our discussion is based on real case study sites that are considering moving to a more extensive approach. Talking to the people involved in the day-to-day running of sites keeps the focus on real practical issues. What might arise if re-wilding or naturalistic grazing schemes were considered in the English landscape?

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Kathy Hodder