Preserving wilderness

Protecting wildlands
Protecting wilderness

Wilderness lands are, in many places, being degraded by people who love and value them. Fragile vegetation is trampled by too many boots. Limbs are stripped from trees to fuel camp-fires. Trails widen in moist meadows until they become large, ugly brown scars. Water pollution increases and solitude is often impossible because of too many noisy and thoughtless wilderness neighbours. Some users even want a tame wilderness.

There is very little true wilderness remaining. Antarctica is the largest. There are the Queen Elizabeth Islands in the Canadian Arctic, pockets of the Mato Grosso bush in central Brazil, some of the Tibetan Plateau. It is distinguished (and preserved) by its vast emptiness and extreme inhospitality to humans.

Using one classification system, four kinds of wilderness could be distinguished: [foundation areas], that should be left entirely without any human use or visitation, namely active communities where the integrity of life is not challenged by human interference; [preservation areas], which may be visited for research or inspiration; [reservation areas], for nonindustrial native peoples with traditional ways; and [conservation areas], for true multiple use, including forestry and grazing.


1. In the 21st century, the pressure to exploit the world's remaining wilderness for natural resources, food and human habitation will become overwhelming.

2. In wilderness is the preservation of the world. (Henry David Thoreau).

Counter Claim:

After the boundary is drawn around a piece of wilderness, the paradoxical enterprise of wilderness "management" must begin. The managers are usually government people, and their aim is to allow use of the wilderness while maintaining the values for which the wilderness area was established. Their greatest challenge is to do this management without reducing the quality of the experience for the wilderness user who often goes to wildlands to escape management.

Constrained by:
Advancing ecotourism
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies