Novel ecosystems are unmanaged wild areas that are anthropogenic in composition and can never be restored to their original ecological status. Though relatively new, novel ecosystem theory challenges our fundamental relationships with ‘new’ nature and what this means for the future of biodiversity conservation and societal progress. This has resulted in much polarised debate among the ecology community where novel ecosystem theory is highly contested, but there has been no engagement with human communities on the implications of novel ecosystems. The aim of NovelEco is explore novel ecosystem theory as a bridging concept and a conduit for rewilding urban society. NovelEco will be a shift in theoretical exploration and will redefine ‘new’ nature, and how it may be perceived and valued. Urban novel ecosystems have been chosen because they are the most likely spaces where many citizens will encounter what appears to be ‘wild’ nature, particularly people and communities with little financial resources to visit wild nature in a remote setting. Indeed, we know little of the implications of novel wild nature in urban communities. NovelEco is a citizen science project that will measure for the first time the societal attitudes to urban wild spaces by asking citizens to study them. It will first of all engage citizens in co-creating an online instrument to enable ecological data collection within urban novel ecosystems. During data collection the citizen scientists will also record their attitudes to novel ecosystems and reveal whether engagement with them alters their values and perhaps even their environmental behaviour. Comparing these data with the wider community this project will be the first to quantify the social and ecological values of novel ecosystems. NovelEco will refine and redefine the novel ecosystem concept and create a new awareness of the transformative potential of urban wild spaces.
Fields of science
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