For my Wilderness Manifesto piece, I came about the topics of sustainability, preservation and conservation through my experiences and developing my ethic during discussions, readings, and observations in this class. I notice we need to sustain our environment. Writing about my childhood experiences for this manifesto was easy to write about because it was relating back to my own memories. The hard part about the writing this paper was laying out how I would discuss sustainability as a part of my ethic. My favorite part is when I get to reflect fondly on different childhood memories! With this paper, I want to raise awareness about wilderness and the problems we are facing with sustainability.
Why does wilderness matter to me?
Wilderness matters to me. I use the wilderness as a form of recreation, enjoyment, its aesthetic appeal, and as a place of escape. Wilderness as a form of recreation allows me to do many different things. I will take my dogs on walks through the woods. I also like to run through different places, especially the woods. According to Thoreau, “When we walk we naturally go to the fields and woods.” I did Cross-Country in high school, and we got to run through different woods and on different trails. It was something I really came to enjoy. I do not think I would enjoy it so much if it wasn’t in the wilderness, like running though a city sucks, especially when you can count the number of blocks you have already ran. But running out in the wilderness, there is no way that I can keep track of how far I have gone, I can only guess. I like not being able to know how far I have run, I just run until I want to turn around and then turn around and come back. Running through different trails is the most enjoyable form of recreation, for me by myself, in the wilderness. Wilderness is also aesthetically pleasing to me. It is always pretty. The beauty allows me to get absorbed in it. Running through the wilderness also allows me to escape from everyday realities. Because I can’t see different places it won’t remind me and then I do not think about it.
Wilderness matters to me because I would not have had these following experiences if wilderness didn’t exist and wasn’t sustained to my generation. Wilderness also is a way for me to link memories from the past to the present, allowing me to reminisce on younger days. From the time I was little, I remember going out into my grandparents’ woods, hiking, picking flowers, walking their dogs, ice-skating on the pond, and just enjoying the time spent with them. The wilderness provided me with those memories. I lost my grandfather last summer and with him went all of my chances to make more memories. But the memories I did have the chance to make with him were cherished, and many of those memories involve the wilderness. But their woods continue to provide me with endless memories that are my favorite. Climbing Grandfather Mountain reminded me of a day in the woods at Gigi’s House. Another wilderness experience that I remember is biking through the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. The woods and a river running beside us, rushing against the rocks, was an experience that vaguely reminded me of climbing Hebron Rock Colony. Both experiences incorporated wilderness, and provided me with memories and stories that I will be able to tell my children one day. Canoeing on the Roanoke River reminded me of canoeing with my AP Biology class for a day, and kayaking reminded me of kayaking with one of my best friends on a hot summer day on the Susquehanna River. Although my experiences with wilderness were only in minimal amounts, these experiences were moments I treasure and will forever look back on.
My Definition of Wilderness
Wilderness has the potential to be any or everywhere depending on the person who is describing it. I feel that each individual’s definition of wilderness varies. Wilderness is an ongoing debate depending on what topic you are fighting for or what ethic you are trying to further insight and protect. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, wilderness is: a (1) : a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings (2) : an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community : b : an empty or pathless area or region <in remote wildernesses of space groups of nebulae are found — G. W. Gray †1960> : c : a part of a garden devoted to wild growth (“wilderness”). In contrast, the definition of wilderness according to The Wilderness Act varies.
“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain…. which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value” (The Wilderness Act of 1964).
My wilderness manifesto, after careful development throughout this class, the readings, and past experiences, is based around anthropocentric sustainability. Some readings have called to my attention that although “wilderness” has been around since humans have, I never really realized that we had coined that term and all that is encompassed it in. We, in terming wilderness, have accidently and purposely placed our imprint on wilderness. I feel that now that we have disturbed wilderness, we must sustain what we have disturbed, being careful to keep what we have. We use wilderness for our own selfish needs. We need to sustain what we have in order to preserve what we have left and conserve what we have already used in hopes to reuse it.
Each word that I type has been invented, termed, and defined by humans. We have created a whole idea behind words. One example of this is through the word wilderness. We have termed the word wilderness and through the terming of this, it has furthered caused us to enact legislation of many types to protect “wilderness”. We have also adjusted our coined term, wilderness, because we want to further include different aspects of wilderness that were not previously included. We have expanded this to include a numerical amount of how many acres wilderness should be, along with descriptions including the characteristics of being untouched by man and having a value of some sort. “It [wilderness] is quite profoundly a human creation – indeed this creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history” (Cronin).
Throughout us terming the word wilderness we have done so for our own selfishness.
According to Roberts, “Humans need the land in order to survive” (2). We use wilderness and land to truly benefit ourselves, which helps us to survive. Everything we do to benefit wilderness always ends up benefitting us. We think that we are looking out for what is the best for the wilderness. We do this through a variety of different ways. One way we help ourselves is through cleaning parks and clearing trails. Clean parks, which are reinforced through laws to ensure they stay clean, give a place of recreation for people to go and enjoy nature and wilderness. Clearing or creating trails, allows people walk (or run or bike) through different places without the worry of getting lost, and also allows them to enjoy the beauty of wilderness. Trails would be something that Thoreau would not agree with. He enjoys the ability to get lost in the wilderness. He would not enjoy plowed, and some places paved, trails. “Roads are made for horses and men of business. I do not travel in them much comparatively” (Thoreau). I think that he would consider our trails, roads, because they are used for men of business. Although they are used for men of business, it is a way for the men to get away form the hustles and bustles of everyday life. Thoreau would agree with a need to get away from everyday life, with his statement, “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields absolutely free from all worldly engagements” (Thoreau). With his travels, not on trails, Thoreau predicted, “…the day will come when it will be partitioned off into so-called pleasure grounds, in which a few will take a narrow and exclusive pleasure only.” We have come to that day, where we have been corralled off into pleasure grounds. These pleasure grounds are what we call parks and trails that we like to travel on.
Another way that we help wilderness to help ourselves is by planting flowers in a garden, fruits and vegetables, fertilizing the ground we use and planting trees. We plant flowers to help root soil, make our yards look prettier, through aesthetic appeal, and provide a sweet fragrance that encompasses the air around your house. We plant fruits and vegetables to allow part of our food to be self-sufficient, making it easier on our wallets. It allows us to eat them, but I know some feel that by us planting different fruits and vegetables we’re enriching the soil. Although we feel were enriching the soil, we are actually stripping the soil of all of it’s nutrients. Thus, around this time every year is when the farm fields start to stink, because farmers are fertilizing the soil with different manures. We do this because we want it to help our plants grow, which in turn allows the farmers to make a profit off of their crops. Planting trees provides aesthetical appeal to any barren landscape. It also roots soil in place, which prevents soil erosion. Trees provide also provide protection, standing tall and strong. Trees also help curb children’s curiosity, giving them something to hang and swing from, and climb on, but can also be a source of pain, if they were to fall and hurt themselves. But mainly, trees preform photosynthesis, which provide us with a vital need, oxygen. Oxygen, which will eventually kill all of us, is what we as humans need, so by planting trees, we eliminate carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen in it’s place.
A final way we help wilderness to help ourselves is by protecting different places of rich biodiversity to protect the biodiversity of that area. We protect the areas of rich biodiversity because we want to protect different organisms within that specific ecosystem. We protect these areas because we want to protect our butts. We do not want to be the ones that let an animal or plant to go extinct on our watch. Our egocentric selves, it would not look good to have an animal go extinct without us being able to say “We did everything we could to protect it.”
We need to sustain what we have left for wilderness. We have disturbed wilderness and now need to sustain what is left. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.” The way the EPA defines how sustainability is important because they define it will the anthropocentric ideals in mind. They want us to be able to sustain wilderness and the environment to “protect human health”. This key shows that we are only protecting our environment to better protect ourselves. Noss states, “…a logical response to our quandary is to manage in a more ecologically sensible manner the “semi- natural matrix” that constitutes most of our land (Brown quoted in Noss). Noss is trying to form a plan that will help us to sustain the bits of wilderness that we have left.
We need to sustain wilderness to sustain biodiversity in different habitats and ecosystems. Sustainability is not just important for the biodiversity of a specific area, but also for our own resources that are required for different industries. “Its importance to sustaining resource-based industries such as agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism cannot be overestimated” (Introduction – Sustaining Biodiversity). If we do not sustain the wilderness, then we will not be able to profit from our different industries that require those specific resources to flourish and thrive. “…we have no choice: we must carefully sustain our biological resources if we are to prosper and to have a high quality of life” (Introduction – Sustaining Biodiversity). This statement is inferring that if we don’t sustain what we have then our quality of life will diminish, which is true. Agreeing with that statement, Bergstrom, Bowker and Cordell state, “The presence of Wilderness may also contribute to the overall social well-being and quality of life in human communities through recreational therapeutic religious or spiritual growth.” This statement agrees with that if we don’t sustain the presence of wilderness then our well-being will diminish. If we do not sustain what we have, we will continue to deplete what we have until it is all gone.
Then once the environment is gone, we will not be able to get it back, and will be force to find different ways to go about whatever that particular person was using wilderness for. Say, if you were using wilderness for recreation, you would have to find a new place to have fun. If you were using the wilderness for spirituality, then you would need to find a new place to meditate. Without this place to meditate, then it could lead to depression, which would diminish your quality of life. If you used wilderness as a form of an escape, and wilderness wasn’t sustained, it could lead to depression because of how harsh realities are and without wilderness to escape to, you have no way of coping with them. If you used wilderness as a form of industry, your resources would be gone, so the industry will have to shut down because it would be too expensive to maintain. Finally, if you used wilderness through a job in agriculture or a job in a park you would lose your job and your quality of life would diminish greatly! In the case of agriculture, you don’t have the ability to continue to grow the crops that you need in order to provide for your family, which would cause a great stress on their life and lead to depression or an anxiety disorder. In the case of losing your job if you work at a recreational park, like a park ranger in Yellowstone, you would have to start over and look for a new job. Looking for a new job would become a stressor, which would diminish your quality of life, especially if you had specialized in something that related to wilderness or being a park ranger in any way and can not use your skills in another profession.
We can sustain through preservation and conservation. We need to preserve what we either have not yet used or have use but stopped. We need to preserve what we have not used yet so that it will be able to be viewed for generations to come. Sharma agrees, “We certainly ought to preserve and protect wilderness areas.” We need to preserve the parts of the wilderness that holds different endangered organisms, because we do not know if the ecosystem will continue without it. If we don’t preserve what we have, we might well use it up until it is gone, and then we can never get it back. We need to conserve what we have already used, so that it does not go extinct. According to Leopold, “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” Sustainability is greatly seen through conserving farmland. Farmers create harmony between men and land. Farmers till the land, and use crop rotation to better sustain the land. Crop rotation conserves different nutrients in the soil so that it can continue to be used for many years, instead of using the soil for only a couple years and then moving on. The practice of using the land for only a couple of years and then moving on is seen tremendously where the rainforest was. The farmers do not conserve the land. They chop down the rainforest, use the soil until it’s nutrient depleted and then moves on to the next plot of land they can find. We also need to conserve the wilderness and the parks so that the generations that follow us can enjoy the wilderness like we did.
Bergstrom, John C., J. M. Bowker, and H. Cordell. “An Organizing Framework for Wilderness Values.” The Multiple Values of Wilderness. By John Bergstrom. Venture, (2005): 48-55. Web. 15 April 2013.
This chapter begins by defining wilderness. Then it transfers into a framework to measure wilderness values. Discussing in further detail, this article describes the different wilderness connections: value accounts, wilderness attributes, wilderness functions and wilderness services. It then goes into further detail about wilderness values. This articles main purpose is to show how everything in the wilderness has value, and can be broken down into its own distinct part of the framework.
Cronin, William. “The Trouble With Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, New York: W. W. Norton & Co. (1995): 69-90. Web.
Cronin’s article begins by discussing the frontier and Western culture. He uses the ideals from the Western culture to drive his point that we have termed wilderness as wilderness, and thus we exclude wilderness from our day-to-day lives, only going to the wilderness as a place of recreation or spirituality. He uses examples of how men first looked at wilderness, and were afraid of it, and now people have lost their fear. He also touches on the paradox that we removed the Indian’s to create an “uninhabited wilderness”. He also relates environmental problems to poor people, because they are they ones usually affected by them. He concludes that we should embrace wilderness and take responsibility for the place we’re trying to sustain.
“Introduction – Sustaining Biodiversity.” The State Of Victoria. 2013. Web. 21 April 2013.
Leopold, Aldo. “The Land Ethic.” A Sand County Almanac. 1948. Web. 15 April 2013.
The ethics is based on three elements: relation between individual, relations between individual and society, and evolutionary possibility and ecological necessity. The land ethic like all other ethics is based on community. If land conservation were based on economic self-interest, it would only work for people that want/need the economic gain not the ones looking out for the best interest of the land. He elaborates on the land pyramid. He finalizes his paper with the understanding of why a land ethic is so important.
Noss, Reed F. “Society for Conservation Biology: Sustainability and Wilderness.” Wiley for Society for Conservation Biology. JSTOR. Vol. 5, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 120-122. Web. 21 April 2013.
Roberts, Lynda. “A Conflict between Values.” 1-26. Web. 15 April 2013.
This article compares the anthropocentric verses the bio-centric ideal. It explains intrinsic verse extrinsic valued concepts along with the personal values of wilderness. It touches on the long-term goals that we could achieve if we weren’t so wrapped up in our short-term goals. It states that we need to change our consumption rates. Finally, it shows the importance of preserving the wilderness.
Sharma, Kishan Kumar. “World Tourism Today.” Sarup & Sons. (2004): 12. Web. 15 April 2013.
This page discusses the difference between an anthropocentric approach and a bio-centric approach. This piece moves on to further discuss the deep ecology perspective. This perspective includes both approaches in its discussion. It also captures the intrinsic values that wilderness possesses.
“The Wilderness Act of 1964.” Wilderness.net. The University of Montana. 2013. Web. 21 April 2013.
“What is Sustainability?” EPA: United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA. 2013. Web. 21 April 2013.
“Wilderness.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster. 2013. Web. 21 April 2013.