Ecodemocracy in the wild: If existing democracies were to operationalise ecocentrism and animal ethics in policymaking, what would rewilding look like?

Helen Kopnina, Simon Leadbeater, Paul Cryer, Anja Heister, Tamara Lewis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The concept of “ecodemocracy” refers to the political representation of the interests of nonhuman species and nature. Ecodemocracy’s overarching potential is to establish the baseline principles that dethrone single-species domination and elevate multiple living beings as stakeholders in all decision-making. Ecodemocracy has not yet been applied to rewilding, a process commonly described as the ecological restoration or creation of historical landscapes, for the benefit of nature itself or as a means of preserving nature for human applications, such as for recreational pastimes. By operationalising ecocentrism and animal ethics in policy formulation, the theoretical applications of existing forms of ecodemocracy are explored using the example of the controversial Dutch rewilding experiment in Oostvaardersplassen. Existing mechanisms which express nonhuman representation include legal and constitutional endeavours to amend political entities, notably the Parties for Animals; grassroots or indigenous organisations; and, in its most ambitious and far-reaching form, proxy representation. A discussion concerning the challenges surrounding the practical dimensions of implementing proxy representation addresses how a species’ hierarchy or ranking is conceived in establishing the place of humans in a multi-species democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRights of Nature in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationEncounters and Visions
EditorsJenny García Ruales, Katarina Hovden, Helen Kopnina, Colin D. Robertson, Hendrik Schoukens
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781040012987, 9781003318989
ISBN (Print)9781032332659
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2024

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