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Contemporary criticisms of the received wilderness ideaAuthor(s): J. Baird Callicott
Source: In: Cole, David N.; McCool, Stephen F.; Freimund, Wayne A.; O'Loughlin, Jennifer, comps. 2000. Wilderness science in a time of change conference-Volume 1: Changing perspectives and future directions; 1999 May 23-27; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-15-VOL-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 24-31
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: View PDF (140 B)
DescriptionNames are important. The name “wilderness” is fraught with historical baggage obfuscating the most important role of wilderness areas for contemporary conservation. The received wilderness idea has been and remains a tool of androcentrism, racism, colonialism, and genocide. It privileges virile and primitive recreation, because the main reason wild lands were originally preserved is for such utilitarian purposes. The wilderness idea is associated with outmoded equilibrium ecology and ignores the ecological impact of at least eleven thousand years of human inhabitation of the Americas and Australia. Finally, the wilderness idea perpetuates a pre-Darwinian separation of “man” from nature. The alternative concept of “biodiversity reserve” more clearly expresses the most important role of so-called wilderness areas for contemporary conservation: habitat for nonhuman species that do not coexist well with Homo sapiens.
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CitationCallicott, J. Baird. 2000. Contemporary criticisms of the received wilderness idea. In: Cole, David N.; McCool, Stephen F.; Freimund, Wayne A.; O''Loughlin, Jennifer, comps. 2000. Wilderness science in a time of change conference-Volume 1: Changing perspectives and future directions; 1999 May 23-27; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-15-VOL-1. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 24-31
Keywordswilderness, wilderness areas, conservation
- Modeling human-environmental systems
- Man's nature: innate determinants of response to natural environments
- The evolving role of science in wilderness to our understanding of ecosystems and landscapes
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