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Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment,


With this project I set out collect and compare different conceptions of wilderness from individuals on all sides of the ongoing wilderness protection versus forestry debate in Tasmania. I purposed to share the results with all parties to bring them together to cooperate and work towards wilderness protection and sustainable forestry for the future of Tasmania. I spent 5 weeks in April and May of 2008 researching the history of the concept of wilderness as well as Tasmanian wilderness issues. I interviewed 11 subjects, involved in the wilderness versus forestry debate in many different arenas, including forest ecologists, wilderness academics, foresters, and wilderness activists. I aimed to get a full and balanced account of Tasmanian conceptions of wilderness through those intimately involved with wilderness issues. I collected subject’s thoughts on the definition, history, and importance of wilderness as well as their personal histories of experience with wilderness. I analyzed the results to find several reasons why Tasmanian’s value wilderness, among them biodiversity, spiritual rejuvenation, and recreation and tourism. Different ideologies about nature’s inherent rights and utility to humans cause different interpretations of what defines wilderness and makes it valuable. I found that the concept of wilderness is relative, often-tenuous, and ever-changing, as human interaction with the natural world shifts. The future will see wilderness grow increasingly rare, which will no doubt alter our conceptions of and relations to it. Wilderness will remain as important as ever.


Natural Resources and Conservation


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