The idea that humans can effectively "manage" nature -- that we can successfully manipulate and control our environment to meet our needs and satisfy our desires -- is almost universally accepted in today's society. While we may be aware that nearly all significant environmental problems are caused by human actions, we remain convinced that the key to solving these problems is "better management."
In Unmanaged Landscapes, editor Bill Willers brings together an insightful and thought-provoking selection of writings that challenge that assumption. Written between the mid-nineteenth century and the late 1990s, the pieces range from two paragraphs written in response to an exam question to tightly reasoned philosophical arguments. They offer the thoughts, stories, and analysis of scientists, journalists, philosophers, historians, educators, and others who have considered the effects and implications of "resource management," and have found themselves in favor of keeping some landscapes free from human interference.
The collection is divided into three sections: one that focuses on biology and ecology, one that examines the idea of wildness from the standpoint of human society and its economic concerns, and a third that considers philosophical and spiritual aspects of wildness. Featured are works from leading environmental thinkers including Rachel Carlson, George Wuerthner, Joanna Macy, Paul Shepard, David Orr, John Burroughs, David Ehrenfeld, Arne Naess, Bill McKibben, Donald Worster, Carolyn Merchant, Rick Bass, and many others.
As Willers explains in his introduction, "If wildness and wild creatures are to survive on Earth, so then must unmanaged landscapes, for they are the fountainheads of the wildness that Henry Thoreau taught is the preservation of the world. They are the blank spots on the map longed for by Aldo Leopold." Unmanaged Landscapes presents a compelling argument for protecting and restoring that wildness.