Rewilding the peri-urban forest : how to cross the natural boundaries between the urban and the rural in Switzerland?

Authors: Joelle Salomon Cavin*, University of Lausanne Faculté Des Géosciences Et De L'environnement
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Europe
Keywords: rewilding, urban forest, Switzerland
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Jorat forest is situated close to city of Lausanne. It is a traditional week-end destination for the urbanites and an area exploited for the wood since more than a century. Under the initiative of the municipality of Lausanne, the forest might become in 2019 a Nature Discovery Park including a core zone of minimum 4 km2 where nature should be left to its own dynamics with no (more) human intervention.
Such rewilding (here synonymous of passive management (Lorimer et al. 2015)) is actively criticized by the rural municipalities, partly owners of the forest, that consider it as a timber resource. Farmers, whose fields surround the forest, are also reluctant to the foreseable expansion of wildlife, especially wild boards.
In this communication we discuss this case study in the light of a confrontation between urban and rural conceptions of nature. On the one hand, the rewilding is considered as confering added-value to an historically exploited forest. On the other hand, it creates a sanctuary for urban purposes that erases the origin and traditional uses and blurs an agrarian cultural landscape.
Far from the storied wilderness (Cronon, 2003), this case is also a good illustration of the way the urban ecosystem is considered in the Swiss natural parks policy: in contrast to rural nature, (peri-) urban nature should be purified from human marks to deserve protection (Salomon Cavin 2013).

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