The promise of wilderness between paradise and hell: a cultural-historical exploration of a Dutch national park

Koen Arts, Anke Fischer, Rene Van der Wal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


'Wilderness' is often seen as a (biophysical) ideal state in contemporary debates on ecological restoration. We ask what is left of relationships with 'wilderness' in present-day Western societies by drawing on a case study of the Hoge Veluwe National Park, the Netherlands. A brief history of wilderness interpretations is constructed as a backdrop to the analysis of the Veluwean land use history. Herein, wilderness aspects are conceptualised as 'paradise-like' or 'hell-like', thus providing insight into the origins, limits and dynamics of contemporary wilderness concepts. We conclude that the concept of wilderness is inherently paradoxical, and argue that wilderness paradoxes should be not be ignored, but acknowledged and valued in conservation practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-256
Number of pages18
JournalLandscape Research
Issue number3
Early online date1 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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