Global Change and Sustainable European Landscape Management Project
This project investigates the use and perception of large wild herbivores, namely Konik horses, for managing landscapes in different biomes and cultures of the European Union and is funded by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) as part of their ‘Geographical Perspectives on Global Change’ research programme. The use of sustainable strategies for natural resource management is an area of increasing interest to society; informed deployment of such strategies requires both scientific and social scientific understandings. The use of large grazing mammals as a management tool for maintaining biodiversity is poorly appreciated, even though many herbivores historically served as keystone species in various ecosystems.
Koniks are well-adapted to damp grasslands and open water conditions and considered to be the genetically the closest modern breed to the Pleistocene forms and are descended from the extinct tarpan of Europe. Originally native to Poland, they have been recently introduced, on small, localized scales, to sites across the EU, including the UK and the Netherlands.
This project integrates physical and human geography with the objectives of:
- Exploring the impact of wild herbivores on different landscapes, in terms of land modification and effects on biodiversity;
- Linking modern site-based data with long-term processes of Quaternary environmental change;
- Investigating the political motivations and impediments to introduction of Koniks in the context of EU and national directives about biodiversity and conservation;
- Investigating how key stakeholders and the wider public in different EU cultural contexts respond the presence of wild animals as an approach to land management;
- Evaluating the sustainability of large herbivores as a solution for managing landscapes in different EU localities from the perspectives of different knowledges (scientific and public understandings).