Prompt: What is the meaning of the word “wilderness”, and how is it different from “nature”?
Wilderness is the unkept and untouchable aspect of nature. It is not tainted by human hands, nor is it restrained or confined. It is the most natural and healthy kind of land because it is thriving and existing outside of human influence.
Nature is all-encompassing; it has a cause and it operates for a purpose. Natural things have the ability to move or stand still according to their design and function. (Aristotle p.236) In terms of matter the things we make are natural but they are artificial because we give them a different purpose. The matter that makes up all things is found in nature. Wilderness is natural but not everything in nature is wild or unrestrained.
“Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization.” (Leopold p. 264) Leopold’s quote sums up all that wilderness is to the human experience. The way a culture perceives wilderness defines that culture and its way of living. To some cultures, wilderness is to be embraced, and for others it is meant to be controlled. In American culture, wilderness is seen as an enemy to be conquered. Birch’s theory is that we bring the law to wilderness, but without the reserves, we wouldn’t have wilderness. We also cannot recreate wilderness after it has been eliminated. ( Birch p.445)
Transcendentalists like John Muir and Leopold were advocates for preserving wilderness for cultural and environmental benefits. According to Leopold, we need to preserve wilderness for recreation, scientific research and wildlife. Enjoying the wilderness for recreation brings us back to our roots. It helps people build character through hard and productive work as described in leopols “wilderness within, wilderness without,” “Wilderness teaches… that what affects one, affects all.” (Leopold p96) Leaving wilderness intact will allow us to know how wild nature works. It will also educate humanity on what a healthy land type looks like, and if we can mimic these conditions we can have more resources. The preservation of wilderness also preserves the life of wildlife. We need wilderness areas for animals to live.
Wilderness is the standard for nature. It is the natural in its purest form. Nature encompasses every part of existence. “If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good whether we understand it or not.” (Leopold p.190) All parts of nature are a necessity. The world would not be the place that it is without every organism functioning according to its purpose. “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.,” (Leopold p. 189) and we must maintain harmony with the land because the land is apart of our civilization. We become so concerned with economic growth that we begin exploiting the land in order to attain more possessions. But without the land being preserved, we won’t have any places to draw resources from. The land that is being exploited is the same land that is sustaining our…