University of Tasmania
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Wilderness : nature out of control

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posted on 2023-05-26, 00:07 authored by Scotney, RJ
This thesis attempts to answer the question, \what is wilderness?\" It argues that throughout history wilderness and human habitation and modifications of it have coexisted and wilderness has been thought of as both a place of danger and one of refuge transformation and empowerment. This contradicts both the American so-called \"Received Wilderness Idea\" of wilderness as necessarily uninhabited and significantly unmodified by human beings and critiques of the entire idea of wilderness as a mere cultural construct that does not reflect physical reality. The \"Received Wilderness Idea\" has been extremely influential for policy and its application to wilderness preservation across the globe has caused the sometimes violent displacement of human populations with sometimes tragic consequence. Its implementation has also even in some cases damaged the biodiversity it sought to protect. Yet many contemporary definitions of wilderness in theory and practice acknowledge its histories of indigenous occupation. It is found that many of these definitions remain however arbitrary and equivocal. It is proposed that wilderness be defined as the kind of environment where nature is out of human control as the dominant shaping factor. In order to overcome the problem of confusion with and attachment to the Received Wilderness Idea an enquiry is made into what we mean by \"nature\" and the ways in which nature is out of our control. This enquiry reveals the wildness not only of wilderness but of the human world and human existence a discovery that allows us to transform ourselves and our environments by letting go of the illusions of control that are destroying wilderness biodiversity and human potential."


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Copyright 2013 the author

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