Political and social aspects of UK rewilding


Contact Dr George Holmes to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Rewilding – the large scale recreation of past ecosystems, principally through reduction of human activities and the reintroduction of lost keystone species – is a growing trend, as well as correspondingly a subject of increased academic interest. There are plans to restore beavers, wolves, lynx, bear, wild cattle and other species to parts of the UK, in order to increase landscape-scale biodiversity and preserve or increase ecosystem services. This is a radical form of conservation action. Whilst government is included to some degree, it is being driven by more ambitious NGOs and private individuals. This radical strategy is controversial, not least because of expected impacts on other rural activities such as farming, and because its emphasis on natural landscapes clashes with cultural views of the landscape. Yet little is known about it, such as the ideologies and motives of actors involved, the strategies used, or how these are engaging with the opposition. This project would explore how and why rewilding projects have come about, and how they interact economically, socially, culturally and politically with other ideas of landscapes and rural economies. Key questions include: what are rewilding projects proposing and why? What kinds of assumptions and normative statements do they make about landscape, nature and society? What are the areas of convergence and divergence with other perspectives on rural landscapes? How does this politics play out formally and informally?

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in Environmental Conservation / Environmental Science / Sustainability / Geography or related subject. Candidate will ideally have some field experience in a relevant area.

If you would like to be considered for research in this area, you will need to provide a short research proposal.
This should be no longer than 6 pages, plus referencing. You will need to present the proposal in sections including 1) an introduction, 2) short literature review and novelty of the proposed research 3) research problem and questions 4) study area / site, materials and methods, and 5) references. Referencing should be done in the style of a journal related to this research area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘Political and social aspects of UK rewilding' as well as Dr George Holmes as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office e: apply-phd@see.leeds.ac.uk, t: +44 (0)113 343 1634.