Both valued and feared, urban “wildscapes” evoke contradictory responses; but, in addition to their vital ecological and environmental role within urban green networks, they present the urban dweller with an alternative to the overly homogenous, mono-functional, sanitised and potentially excluding environments that are the mainstay of much contemporary urban development. Wildscapes are accorded important status and functions by many disciplines within the natural and social sciences. However, it is difficult for the professionals responsible for the planning, design and management of public open space to share this enthusiasm, working within a culture of risk avoidance, and faced with the possibility of negative public feedback.
Wildspace seems to confront professionals with an impossible dilemma: intractable and dangerous if left untouched, whilst active intervention may remove its essential qualities of wildness and seclusion. Potential/actual users may be deterred from interacting with such spaces by their poor public image and problems of physical/legal access, or may feel unable/unwilling to openly articulate “invisible” patterns of interaction. We are interested in all kinds of brownfield, abandoned, derelict and neglected sites, including natural and wild-looking places such as woodland, river/canal banks, overgrown allotments and disused cemeteries, from micro-sites to more extensive areas. We believe that such sites are valuable urban resources in terms of their human and natural ecologies, environmental functions and the cultural/historical narratives they embody.