Inderscience Publishers

Society and wilderness

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

In a recent book, Mark Sagoff argues that humans are an essential part of nature. According to Sagoff, an area is 'natural' (part of nature) only if humans have cultivated the area through activities such as farming, hunting, trapping, and fishing. Humans must 'come to terms with nature', he writes. Wilderness is apparently an exception to this view, however. By law, many human activities are excluded from wilderness, for example, farming and commercial logging. These and other cultivating activities are considered 'non-conforming'. In this paper, I will argue that wilderness supports Sagoff's view, at least in part. Wilderness has in fact been cultivated for specific uses, not farming, logging, or mining, but certain recreational uses highly valued within our society. Wilderness has been brought into our society as we have extended aspects of our culture into wilderness, moulding this part of nature to fit perceived human needs.

Keywords: Wilderness Act, wilderness management, environmental preservation, human cultivation, culture, human needs, Mark Sagoff, recreational use

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