In my readings recently I came across The Wilderness Act of 1964 and began pondering about the meaning of wilderness—or pristine Nature. The more we find out about the history of North and South America, the more we learn that Columbus did not come to a land unchanged by humans.
There had been large urban areas, pervasive agriculture, frequent forest burning, and much predation on wild animals. In the future, as we try and determine what is a pristine state of Nature so we can preserve it, it may prove more difficult than previously thought.
Our focus might have to be on what we can preserve to maintain a sustainable environment and that may conflict with what we used to think as a model of a pristine state of Nature. And as Climate Change kicks in more greenhouse gases, and we delay addressing that, we may have to cut our ‘pristine wilderness’ idea to save ourselves.
Here’s the act’s definition of wilderness: “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. “ (Read the whole Wilderness Act as it’s only six pages.)
Learn more about the Wilderness Act here: Wilderness.net - 1964 Wilderness Act "Wilderness.net is a public wilderness information website formed in 1996 through a collaborative partnership between the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute--the federal government's wilderness training and research arms, respectively--and the College of Forestry and Conservation's Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana. "