Hark—the Tiddy Mun, lurching from the murk. Beware Will-o’-the-Wisp, seducing benighted travelers into the swamp. Hear the padding of the Black Shuck. The incumbents of moors, marshes, fens, and levels mobilized their extra-territorium poaching, smuggling, distilling, arms caching, and rough justice activities unimpeded through perpetuating imaginaries of fear and anxiety. Disorientating wetland mythologies and folklore still resonate today within our contemporary cultural and literary narratives of these paludal spaces. This article explores how these uncanny representations compromise wetlands’ future protection. Wetlands’ carbon sequestration, floodwater storage, and biodiversity properties contribute significantly to climate change adaptation strategies. Yet delinquency, vandalism, fly-tipping, and arson in these waterscapes evidence continued contemporary human disregard. Empirical findings from the WetlandLIFE project show the diverse ways in which these narratives are being shifted toward a “nowtopian” framing, to encourage people to use and value wetlands differently, to prevent further degradation of these complex, vital, and unruly landscapes.
Dr Mary Gearey holds a PhD in Water Resources Management and is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the University of Brighton's School of Applied Sciences. Mary is a social scientist, who has worked globally with a range of communities and stakeholders over the past twenty-five years in support of the integrity and sustainability of local water resources, particularly wetlands. Her current research explores the often invisible contributions that environmental volunteers make in supporting and rehabilitating green-blue spaces, with a particular emphasis on understanding how these volunteer contributions change across the life course. Her current work focuses on: community activism in response to changing water environments; renaturing cities though blue-green infrastructure; and articulations of human and more-than-human relationships within wetland environments. Mary is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the UK's Higher Education Academy.