Rewilding the popular imagination through visual narratives (2021)

Dr Jo Phillips, Manchester Metropolitan University

Image: © Wild Ennerdale (National Trust)

Project summary

This project aims to identify and illustrate themes for use in creating future visual narratives of rewilding projects, to be used to communicate the concept of rewilding to the widest possible audience, and thereby to engage the popular imagination.

Existing literature in the field of rewilding has convincingly made the case that such projects improve landscapes not only in an ecological sense, but also to the benefit of human well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront of our thinking the injustices that reside in unequal access to and engagement with nature and the wild. This work seeks to explore ways in which individuals who may not have previously engaged with wild landscapes may be reached through rich and meaningful visual narratives. The benefit of this would be twofold; both to the public who may begin to reap the rewards of engagement with nature, and the rewilding movement itself, as it addresses the challenge of reluctant acceptance of its goals. Injustices related to the wild landscape are very much historically embedded in the landscape of the UK, through its long-standing ownership and management practices since the Acts of Enclosure. More widespread and inclusive involvement in rewilding projects may prove to be a useful contribution to the improved democratisation of our countryside, and perhaps also our cities.

This research hopes to offer academic insights into current engagement challenges faced by charities such as the Wildlife Trusts and Rewilding Britain, and therefore looks to discover insights which could inform the work of these organisations.

LRG is the sole funder for this project and will allow Dr Phillips to travel to the rewilding sites within the UK and fund her research time.

Image: © Wild Ennerdale (National Trust)