A Gaelic View of ‘Wild’ by Roddy Maclean
Warriors of the Word: The World of the Scottish Highlanders by Michael Newton [book, 2009]
‘Rewilding’ is a contested term in the Gàidhealtachd, or the Gaelic speaking areas of the Highlands and Islands. It can strike a discord, especially in those communities where the historical injustices of the Clearances are still felt: today, with more than half of Scotland owned by fewer than 500 people, the Highlands suffers the most concentrated and undemocratic patterns of land ownership in the developed world, with lack of access to housing and fragile local economies. The concept of the ‘Green laird’ is a pejorative term that has made it into mainstream discourse, describing the fear that rewilding projects will perpetuate existing and paternalistic patterns of absentee land ownership with little care or thought for local communities who live nearby.
It is possible to approach rewilding through a Gàidhealtachd lens, acknowledging the importance of cultural memory and the profound interdependencies between biological and cultural diversity, or biolinguistic diversity.
In Gaelic cosmology and tradition we find an archaic ecological outlook that does not separate human beings from the natural world; in place names we find a toponymy created by people with an intimate knowledge of their environment at a time when ecologies were far richer.