A key controversy in conservation is the framing of the relationship between people and nature. The extent to which the realms of nature and human culture are viewed as separate (dualistic view) or integrated is often discussed in the social sciences. To explore how this relationship is represented in the practice of conservation in Europe, we considered examples of cultural landscapes, wildlife (red deer, reindeer, horses), and protected area management. We found little support, for a dualistic worldview, where people and nature are regarded as separate in the traditional practice of conservation in Europe. The borders between nature and culture, wild and domestic, public land and private land, and between protected areas and the wider landscape were blurred and dynamic. The institutionalized (in practice and legislation) view is of an interactive mutualistic system in which humans and nature share the whole landscape. However, more dualistic ideals, such as wilderness and rewilding that are challenging established practices are expanding. In the context of modern day Europe, wilderness conservation and rewilding are not valid for the whole landscape, although it is possible to integrate some areas of low-intervention management into a wider matrix. A precondition for success is to recognize and plan for a plurality of values concerning the most valid approaches to conservation and to plan for this plurality at the landscape scale.
Biodiversity* Conservation of Natural Resources/legislation & jurisprudence Conservation of Natural Resources/methods* Environment* Environmental Policy/legislation & jurisprudence* Europe Wilderness