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In recent years, the profile of rewilding, a conservation approach emphasising reduced human interventions in ecosystems, restored ecosystem processes and autonomous nature, has increased. This has prompted critiques of how wildness, nature, and non-human co-existence with humans, are conceptualised within rewilding. Yet so far, there have been no detailed empirical exploration of the views held by rewilding advocates on what rewilding is, and how it should be done. Here we present an analysis of the views of rewilding practitioners and advocates across Europe, using Q-methodology. We identify two distinct visions, one focusing on extensive radical transformation of rural landscapes towards wilder states, and another focused on pragmatism, embracing different forms of rewilding in different places. Divisions over pragmatism versus radical transformation have not previously been identified in studies of rewilding but have critical implications for how rewilding is enacted. These differences also map onto distinct positions in whether rewilding compliments or challenges existing conservation practice. Beyond these distinctions, we find important areas of consensus, such as seeing humans as part of nature, which challenges arguments that rewilding strives for people-free wildernesses or facsimiles of past ecosystems. Overall, our analyses suggest greater coherence within rewilding than has previously been identified.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation & Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Sep 2019

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