This article is based on the thesis that wilderness as a cultural value emerges where it has been lost as a geographical and material phenomenon. In Europe the idea of wilderness experienced a surprising upswing at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century, with wilderness tours, wilderness education, and self-experience trips into “wilderness” becoming widely established. Also, protection of “wilderness areas” which refers to such different phenomena as large forests, wild gardens, and urban wild is very much in demand. Against this background, the article looks into the material-ecological and symbolic-cultural senses of “wilderness” in the context of changing social relations to nature. Three forms of wilderness are distinguished. Adopting a socio-ecological perspective, the article builds on contemporary risk discourse.