‘Tipping Points’: Cultural Responses to Wilding and Land-sharing in the North
Land Lines is pleased to announce the launch of its second AHRC-funded follow on project, titled ‘Tipping Points’: Cultural Responses to Wilding and Land-sharing in the North. Tipping Points comes under the UKRI ‘Landscape Decisions’ programme, which seeks to “address the challenge of delivering better, evidence-based decisions within UK landscapes through research collaboration with policy, business and land management partners to deliver an interdisciplinary decision-making framework to inform how land is used”. Like its sister project ‘Tracks, Traces and Trails’: Nature Writing Beyond the Page, Tipping Points will continue to develop some of the most successful and significant aspects of the Land Lines agenda: specifically, notions of the wild and rewilding, tensions between nature writing and farming, and land-use decisions in Northern England. Over the course of the project, Tipping Points will maintain a close focus on the communities impacted most directly by these decisions, through a series of public engagement workshops, collaborations, and knowledge-sharing between different stakeholders in land ownership, management and agriculture.
Developed alongside the first follow-on project, ‘Tracks, Traces and Trails’, which seeks to render the less visible aspects of our wildlife and environments more apparent, Tipping Points hopes to revisit facets of the natural world that are now ‘lost’: in the UK today, up to a third of mammals and a half of birds are threatened with extinction, largely because their habitats have been eroded to a point where they are no longer able to sustain themselves. These ‘tipping points’ in our natural and cultural landscapes have potentially devastating consequences, but there is also scope for optimism. The British landscape today is in many ways at a positive tipping point: more habitats are being restored for wildlife than taken away. The practices of ‘rewilding’ or ‘wilding’ in both urban and rural areas are becoming more widespread, and major land-sharing projects with farmers are being devised, in order to encourage the resurgence of wildlife. Such restoration processes are as much cultural as they are natural, and if nature is to bounce back in ways that are urgently needed to sustain our own, as well as other non-human animals’, existences, the arts have a crucial to play in stimulating both creative responses to the current crisis and alternative ways of imagining and experiencing the natural world. It may be that we have in fact reached a third tipping point, in which new stories of our natural landscapes emerge and more positive future visions can be articulated for our drastically ‘de-natured’ nation. We hope that Tipping Points will help to capture and explore these visions and narratives over the course of 2020!
One of Tipping Points’ main collaborators will be the Castle Howard Estate, in Yorkshire. The Estate is currently in the planning stages of land-use changes, which aim to combine conserving an at-risk cultural landscape with a wilding initiative. These changes will entail a transformation of their current agricultural methods, and in order to explore the values and meanings of the Estate’s natural/cultural landscape for the local public, Tipping Points will be running a series public engagement activities at Castle Howard, including two creative art workshops and three nature writing workshops. Artists Judith Tucker and Melanie Rose, alongside biologist and Guardian writer Amy-Jane Beer, will be running the Castle Howard workshops, and similar workshops with other guest artists and writers will also take place later in 2020 at Wild Ennerdale (Cumbria) and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Stirley Community Farm. The workshops will encourage members of the public to engage creatively with the notion of changing landscapes, different conservation initiatives such as ‘wilding’, and land sharing over time. (NB: due to the COVID-19 crisis, these workshops were redesigned and took place online in Winter/Spring of 2021, with workshop leaders Judith Tucker, Melanie Rose, Amy-Jane Beer, Testament and somewhere-nowhere).
Alongside the public engagement workshops, at the heart of Tipping Points is a symposium entitled ‘Love and Soil’, which will take place at Castle Howard in June 2020. The symposium will bring together different groups of invited participants, including farmers, conservationists and humanities scholars/practitioners, and aim to facilitate productive and collaborative discussions that open lines of communication between participants, revolving around sustainable land use, ecological and cultural restoration, and connecting people to nature. (NB: as the Love and Soil symposium could not take place due to COVID-19, this aspect of the project has been redesigned to encapsulate ‘slow conversations’ between landowners, farmers, environmentalists and more).
Header image kindly provided by http://www.somewhere-nowhere.com/projects/sense-of-here