From Theory to Practice: the Implementation of Welfare Biology in Rewilding. A Cognitive Framing Perspective

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The present study was conducted to understand what effects cognitive frames have on the conception and implementation of welfare biology in rewilding projects. With this aim in mind, an explorative case study was used whereof three rewilding projects were studied and compared. The qualitative data collection consisted of fifteen interviews enriched by a document analysis. Findings show that views and practices of rewilding are directly influenced by cognitive framing through the manifestation of different visions of nature (e.g. character of bond and positionality) at different levels and different mediums. The interactions between these mediums can result in cognitive tensions and have been identified as determinants to managerial practices. It led to the conclusion that there is a causal relation between visions of nature and the action repertoire of decisionmakers and managers. Moreover, the analysis of the rewilding areas revealed a fertile ground for the development of welfare biology and the adjustment of practices towards increased accountability of wild animal suffering. On a grand scale, the reassessment of rewilding practices can contribute towards a change in the conservation paradigm. Whilst more academic research is needed for welfare biology to become an established discipline, a key element lies in the collaboration between local people, conservationists, authorities and policymakers.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen