Dr Steve Carver, Senior Lecturer, University of Leeds
Throughout early human history, wilderness has been a place of fear and dread, of wild beast and wilder people, often shown on old maps as “Parts Unknown” or “Hic Svnt Dracones” (Here be dragons). More recently these blank spots have acquired a certain romance and the word wilderness has become more closely associated with unspoilt nature and the sublime. In the modern world there are no remaining blank spots on our maps as satellites have surveyed every last inch of the earth’s surface so that all is now “known”.
This webinar considers the questions of what is wilderness and how we can map this largely qualitative concept to ensure its protection from the worst excesses of human development, and even identify areas that may be returned to the wild through habitat restoration and reintroductions of missing species. This is a journey that takes us from “parts unknown” through to modern high resolution datasets and complex spatial modelling tools informing policy development and the physical and ethical challenges of rewilding. Examples will be given from global to local including institutional mapping exercises in Scotland, Europe and the US followed by some thoughts on where we go next.