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Rewilding the French Pyrenean Landscape: Can Cultural and Biological Diversity Successfully Coexist?

  • Tony Knight
Chapter
Part of the Environmental History book series (ENVHIS, volume 5)

Abstract

Transhumant pastoralism has moulded the Pyrenean landscape for thousands of years. Ancient forests have ceded their dominance to verdant pastures that, today, symbolise the mountains; ‘wild’ life has ceded its historical presence to domesticated livestock. Now, the mountains are undergoing a process of rewilding: charismatic large predators have returned. A contested (re)introduction programme has reinforced the brown bear population, and natural agency has encouraged grey wolves to remake the Pyrenees their home. Conservationists and environmentalists argue that Pyrenean pastoralism has historically coexisted with large predators, and should simply (re)adapt its methods and practices to revalorise and reinvigorate a broader return to a once-present, but suppressed, level of biological and cultural diversity. On the other hand, far from imagining a more resilient natural and cultural landscape, pastoralists view these changes as a threat to their livelihood and identity. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, I explore these complex and conflicting interspecific relationships. I argue that conservation management programmes must seek interdisciplinary collaboration with social science in order to more profoundly understand the human and cultural implications of biocultural diversity.

Keywords

Anthropocene Biocultural landscapes Human–animal conflicts Large carnivore interactions Pastoralism Pyrenees Rewilding Biocultural diversity 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Anthropology and ConservationUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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