Hearing Anima Urbis: conserving ‘wild-life’ in post-industrial urban Britain

Authors: Cara Clancy*, Plymouth University
Topics: Animal Geographies, Human-Environment Geography, Anthropocene
Keywords: animal geography, wildlife, conservation, urban, nature, more-than-human
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom E, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Historically the ‘urban’ has been cast aside in conservation worlds, framed as the antithesis to Nature and the pure world of biodiversity – that is, ‘a timeless collection of objects best removed from society’ (Lorimer, 2012, p594). But urban areas are complex, hybrid and deeply historical; a continually emerging and shifting mosaic of human and nonhuman practices. Although they represent some of the most altered landscapes on the planet (Hobbs et al., 2013) modern cities are filled with wild animal inhabitants, many of whom now find better access to food and shelter here than in the rural countryside. How conservation responds is of critical importance.

Drawing on case study research in two UK cities where wildlife projects are being carried out, this paper seeks to question the scope and role of conservation in urban environments, exposing the conflicts and tensions that emerge when governance regimes focus on the demarcation of wild-life, often at the expense of those creatures that are deemed unworthy of attention and care. It uses field recordings and soundscape experiments to try to incorporate the ‘voices’ of both the conserved and the unconserved, prompting questions around what it might mean to hear these creatures in new and different ways, beyond their conservation territories.

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