In the 19th century, Western philosophers concerned with nature protection began to divide into two camps: utilitarians concerned with obtaining the greatest benefit from natural resources for the greatest number of people and romantics bent on protecting wildlife and wilderness for its own sake and at practically any human cost.
The idea of sheltering nature behind official boundaries is a recent Western invention. Conservation heritage is much older and more universal. "Sacred groves" of old-growth trees have been customarily preserved by many societies for thousands of years. The Indian state of Maharashtra alone has records of more than 400 sacred groves that are still honoured today. Some reputedly "primitive" or pre-scientific cultures display outstanding expertise and powers of stewardship in their relations with wild environments.