Narratives and perceptions of rewilding

Rewilding aims to restore ecosystem dynamics and natural processes, while reducing past and present unsustainable human influences. However, without the support of stakeholders, the success rate of rewilding projects is limited. Stakeholder perception of rewilding is influenced by rewilding narratives. In this study, the narratives associated with rewilding in Dutch forest landscapes are analysed. Specifically, how people perceive rewilding projects and what narratives, or aspects thereof, contribute to their success or demise will be investigated.


In the Anthropocene, the restoration of degraded ecosystems is urgently needed to bend the curve of biodiversity decline; One way of doing that is rewilding. Rewilding is a new form of nature restoration that is increasingly being implemented globally. The narratives of rewilding range from those that emphasise its success in ecosystem restoration to those that criticise the approach for its feasibility. This study aims to contribute to a broader understanding of rewilding, by focussing on how rewilding narratives affect the success or failure of rewilding projects.

Project description

The research objective is to assess how narratives are influenced by their discursive environment and affect people’s perceptions of rewilding as a conservation and restoration strategy in forest landscapes in the Netherlands. The aim is to explore rewilding as a conceptual approach to nature conservation in practice and theory. The process and outcomes of this research will have direct applicability to current area-based conservation challenges in Dutch forested landscapes. The proposed research builds on several case studies, which offers the opportunity to apply the research to practice, which in turn will help tailor the rewilding project to their social context. The study focusses on the Veluwe, with case studies in Renkums and Heelsums Beekdal. Methodology includes in-depth interviews, visual ethnography and Q method.