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The "wilderness knot"Author(s): Haydn G. Washington
Source: In: Watson, Alan; Sproull, Janet; Dean, Liese, comps. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress symposium; September 30-October 6, 2005; Anchorage, AK. Proceedings RMRS-P-49. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 441-446
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: View PDF (450 B)
DescriptionThe word “wilderness” is beset by a tangle of meanings. This “knot” is made of five strands: philosophical, political, cultural, justice and exploitation. Wilderness has a unique philosophical position—being disliked by both Modernism and Postmodernism. Eight key criticisms of wilderness are identified, and two different meanings discussed—“wasteland” and “large natural intact area” (here shortened to “lanai”). Participatory action research (PAR) is used with the Blue Mountains Wilderness Network near Sydney. Eleven in-depth interviews with scholars and critics of wilderness fed into the PAR. All interviewees agreed that lanais should be protected, though some did not call them wilderness, but used other terms (for example, quiet country, core lands). This study has shown that much confusion is a smokescreen when you find out what people really mean. The project has demonstrated the delicacy needed to gain meaningful dialogue over an issue that raises real passions about social and environmental justice. Insights and three “mind-maps” on the knot are presented. Clearly some scholars do not understand the formal definitions of wilderness (in other words, lanai), preferring to use their own personal definition. The political naivety of academia in regard to wilderness is discussed, considering increasing pressures to exploit lanais. It is suggested that confusion can be decreased by concentrating on the definition of wilderness as large natural areas, and secondly promoting recognition that wilderness is in fact a tribute to past indigenous land practices (not a disregard of indigenous history). The idea of shared custodianship or stewardship is suggested as a way forward.
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CitationWashington, Haydn G. 2007. The "wilderness knot". In: Watson, Alan; Sproull, Janet; Dean, Liese, comps. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress symposium; September 30-October 6, 2005; Anchorage, AK. Proceedings RMRS-P-49. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 441-446
Keywordswilderness, biodiversity, protected areas, economics, subsistence, tourism, traditional knowledge, community involvement, policy, stewardship, education, spiritual values
- The real wilderness idea
- Traditional wisdom and climate change: Contribution of wilderness stories to adaptation and survival
- Forest restoration is forward thinking
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