The Wildland Research Institute

The Wildland Research Institute (WRi) aims to identify and elucidate the requirements, strategies and policies for a transition to a greater presence of wild landscapes within the wider land use continuum of Britain and Europe. WRi is a unique UK-based research group specializing in research and policy development relating to wilderness and wild land. At the University of Leeds, the Institute has a dedicated core team of around 20 interdisciplinary researchers and upwards of 100 associates working on the different dimensions of wilderness and wildland worldwide. The broad activities of the institute combine social and natural sciences, as well as the arts and literary world, in leading-edge, interdisciplinary research. The Institute has strategic links with national and international bodies including the Wildland Network, PAN Parks, the Scottish Wild Land Group, the John Muir Trust, the Wilderness Foundation and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. Our main research areas and expertise include:

  • Mapping and modelling wildness attributes and wilderness quality
  • Landscape evaluation
  • Re-wilding and habitat restoration
  • Policy analysis

Current projects include work for SNH, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Cairngorms National Park on mapping wildness and a Research Joint Venture Agreement with the US Forest Service and Leopold Institute on mapping wilderness character. Recently completed work includes a report for the Scottish Government on "A review of the status and conservation of wild land in Europe".


  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • John Muir Trust
  • European Union – DG Environment
  • US National Parks Authority
  • US Forest Service

Project website