Myth Of Wilderness

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What does wilderness mean? According to Thoreau, wilderness meant the preservation of the world, the one place where one is free of the shackles of civilization. In biblical terms, wilderness meant a desolate place where one dealt with forces of evil. Aldo Leopold says, “Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization,” meaning wilderness is the foundation for which civilization is built. According to modern attitudes, it seems that wilderness is the place where you drive and hike up in high places for a few hours, look at scenic views, and take picturesque pictures. Society has perpetuated this myth that nature must be scenic, and if the landscape is not scenic, then it is not real nature…show more content…
Aldo Leopold strongly endorses amateur wildlife research as a way to get people back in touch with nature. This forces people to see nature instead of just admire scenery. When we associate picturesque scenery with nature, we make the mistake of confusing ecosystem health with its appearance. One could look at a reservoir, and see a beautiful lake, thinking that is must be healthy if it looks so nice, and they could make the same mistake of gazing upon an intact ecosystem, such as a prairie just after it has burned, and think that this land must be revitalized or developed because it is not aesthetically appealing. By not having an intimate relation with nature, people associate desirable appearance with ecosystem health, which is a fatal perception. By learning and identifying the local species of flora and fauna, people can develop a closer relationship to them, which will make them understand that nature exists in their backyard and is part of their community. Hopefully, this would cause more people to appreciate their local ecological communities and act with stewardship towards the land they live on. As Aldo Leopold says, natural history must be incorporated into formal education if we are to have any hope of developing a land ethic. People must know what the plants around them are, and who they are, for them to develop a sense of stewardship…show more content…
Wilderness used to be a rough place where one was without the comforts of civilization. The implementation of roads and visitor centers has taken out the actual wildness of the wilderness though. The view that nature is a scenic museum, and not a community of mutually-dependent beings, is a general trend in society, but it is not absolute. There are still great local groups and individuals that value nature for the life within it, and not for its aesthetics. This is where the hope lies. The Friends of the Fox River group in my hometown, and the Riverbend Wildland Trust in the Quad Cities are examples. They work selflessly, with what little money and power they have, to improve the natural communities and engage the human community as well. It is with these groups that a foundation exists for which more ecological awareness can be built on. Ecological awareness is the first step towards developing a sound ecological conscious. Aldo Leopold describes this ecological conscious as the land ethic, which holds us to attach intrinsic moral weight to the environment, and therefore have moral obligations to it. However, this change in consciousness will not occur with education continuing to
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