Cultivating Peace: An Exploration of the Role of Nature-Based Activities in Conflict Transformation

Brandon Hamber, Alistair Little, Wilhelm Verwoerd

Research output: Working paper


Between 2004 and 2011, more than a 100 people from socially and politically diverse survivor, former combatant and wider society backgrounds, linked to the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, participated in the "Sustainable Peace Network" (SPN). The project used storytelling, dialogue and relationship cultivation workshops, as well as immersion into "wild nature" in Ireland, Scotland and South Africa. Drawing on evaluative materials the article demonstrates that the SPN provided opportunities for personal growth and promoting enduring relationships. The article demonstrates that "wild nature" can create a conducive environment for discussion, provide a new language for interaction, and offer opportunities for physically and psychologically journeying together generating emotional connections that leave participants open to "the Other". The article argues for the use of the concept of "peace cultivation" rather than "peacebuilding", as "cultivation" better captures the non-linear, organic, dynamic and risky process needed to transform relationships after violent conflict.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSocial Science Research Network
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Feb 2018

Publication series

NameTransitional Justice Institute Research Paper


  • Peace cultivation
  • peace building
  • Dialogue
  • storytelling
  • environment


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