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Environmental Values

De-Domestication: Ethics at the Intersection of Landscape Restoration and Animal Welfare

Christian Gamborg, Bart Gremmen, Stine B. Christiansen and Peter Sandøe

Environmental Values 19 (2010): 57-78. doi: 10.3197/096327110X485383


De-domestication is the deliberate establishment of a population of domesticated animals or plants in the wild. In time, the population should be able to reproduce, becoming self-sustainable and incorporating 'wild' animals. Often de-domestication is part of a larger nature restoration scheme, aimed at creating landscapes anew, or re-creating former habitats. De-domestication is taken up in this paper because it both engages and raises questions about the major norms governing animals and nature. The debate here concerns whether animals undergoing de-domestication should be looked upon as wild or non-wild and the effect this has on questions about how they should be treated. It also concerns the value of nature, and the kind and degree of nature management considered appropriate. The paper first describes actual de-domestication practices and considers the character of human duties to animals in process of de-domestication. Secondly, the paper explores the implications of de-domestication for nature management, focusing on notions of naturalness and wildness. Finally, because the current division of ethical topics, with its dependence upon whether animals and nature are domesticated, hampers rather than helps, a new perspective is offered on the issues raised by de-domestication. More 'thinking outside the box' with regard to animals and nature is recommended.


Restoration, ethics, naturalness, welfare, wildness

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Ecological Restoration Restored.Robert L. Chapman

Reconciling Realism and Constructivism in Environmental Ethics. Richard J. Evanoff

Care for the Wild: An Integrative View on Wild and Domesticated Animals. Jac A.A. Swart

The Role of Views of Nature in Dutch Nature Conservation: The Case of the Creation of a Drift Sand Area in the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Esther Turnhout, Matthijs Hisschemöller and Herman Eijsackers

Ecological Restoration, Environmentalism and the Dutch Politics of 'New Nature'.Hein-Anton van der Heijden

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Enriching the Lives of Wild Horses: Designing Opportunities for Them to Flourish. Christine M. Reed

Naturalness or Biodiversity: Negotiating the Dilemma of Intervention in Swedish Protected Area Management. Anders Steinwall

Environmental Aesthetics and Rewilding. Jonathan Prior, Emily Brady

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