Nature deficit disorder: is rewilding a way to reconnect people to nature?

Urbanisation and nature-deficit disorder

As more people are moving away from the countryside and cities are ever growing, we are getting more disconnected and estranged from nature and especially wild nature. This trend is likely to intensify, by 2050, 70% of the population will live in cities.

Alienated from wild nature

The modern human has disrupted his links with nature and lives in some artificial landscapes shaped by agriculture practices and urban planning. In Europe very few places still have areas of wilderness where human activities have not considerably impacted the landscapes. This lack of human-nature interaction even has a name.

Artificial landscapes shaped by agriculture practices

The nature-deficit disorder is the extinction of experience in people as part of our increasingly alienated and urban lifestyles. Loss of regular contact with nature has been proven to create change in wellbeing and health. It also creates change in our attitude and behaviour towards nature. As we grow apart from the wilderness, we get less inclined to protect it and care for it as it is so unfamiliar. This lack of interaction between people and nature calls out for new ways to interact with wilderness and let nature come back into our life

Interaction and reconnection with nature

Is rewilding a way to reconnect people to nature?

Rewilding is growing as a conservation practice in Europe, and rewilding projects usually aim rehabilitating degraded ecosystems by unleashing the autonomy of the natural environment through a hands-off approach of nature conservation.   But rewilding is about so much more than to restoring natural ecosystems. It is about bringing back wilderness and getting people to experience it, it is about the “restoration of inner and outer landscapes”[1]

Reintroducing apex predators is a key strategy in rewilding

By making wild nature accessible we can create curiosity, enchantment and ultimately care for nature.

Rewilding represents a hope when it comes to reconciling us with the wilderness and to create a renewed interest for environmental issues. Having easier access to a wild nature strengthens interest for issues such as landscape degradation, pollution or species extinction. Doing nature restoration through rewilding can also be a way for humans to be part of nature instead of asserting their dominance over anthropocentric landscapes.

European brown bear under threat of species extinction

The very approach of rewilding is based on a hands-off that contrasts with a more classic approach of nature management. Rewilding then becomes a way to strengthen people’s connection to nature by sparking amazement, awe, and curiosity.

Having easier access to a wild nature strengthens interest for conservation


[1] Conn, L. K., & Conn, S. A. (2008). As Inside, So Outside: Restoration of Inner and Outer Landscapes. In R. L. France, Healing Natures, Repairing Relationships, New perspectives on restoring ecological spaces and consciousness (pp. 53-69). Sheffield, Vermont: Green Frigate Books.


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