Environmental Ethics

Volume 30, Issue 3, Fall 2008

Integrating Ecological Sciences and Environmental Ethics into Biocultural Conservation in South American Temperate Sub-Antarctic Ecosystems

J. Baird Callicott
Pages 235-249

What “Wilderness” in Frontier Ecosystems?

Wilderness, for seventeenth-century Puritan colonists in America, was hideous and howling. In the eighteenth century, Puritan preacher and theologian, Jonathan Edwards, began the process of transforming the American wilderness into an aesthetic and spiritual resource, a process completed in the nineteenth century by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Henry David. Thoreau was the first American to recommend wilderness preservation for purposes of transcendental recreation (solitude, and aesthetic and spiritual experience). In the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold advocated wilderness preservation for a different kind of recreation (hunting, fishing, and primitive travel) in order to preserve the putatively unique American character and institutions. Of these three historic conceptions of wilderness preservation, the third is the best model for frontier ecosystems at the austral tip of the Americas.