Wilderness Ethic

cheetah cub

Cheetah cub, Nairobi National Park

We are all intimately connected and inter-dependent on wilderness. The last truly wild places on Earth give us the air we breath, the water we drink, the genetic resources we depend upon, and provide for the stable climate in which we thrive. Wilderness fuels our creativity and spirituality, feeds our minds and our bodies, and inspires exploration and scientific investigation. And we in turn are a part of this great system that maintains the world.

The sense of wilderness guides my core ethic and informs my work in conservation.

My focus is on Earth’s last truly wild places – those increasingly rare & special places that remain largely untouched by human influence, where natural processes and wildlife communities continue to thrive as they did in ages past.

FijiI believe that people are a part of wilderness. Whether you are a member of an indigenous tribe to the Amazon or a stock broker in New York City, wilderness matters to your life. I support the perpetuity of traditional wilderness cultures and encourage the reconnection of the urban mind with the wild world.

My vision for the future of wilderness on Earth is embodied in these core values:

Conservation. The American president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt described conservation as equal parts protection and development. We must not continuously consume without protecting resources for the future, and setting aside those places that are more valuable untouched.

Rewilding and Restoration. Earth’s natural systems have been degraded by the expansion of modern human consumption and development. It is imperative to restore and expand disappearing wilderness. This should be done both by restoration of vegetative communities and “rewilding”, the reintroduction of animal species or near proxies that have been lost to wilderness ecosystems.

Exploration. Wilderness is the keeper of Earth’s remaining mysteries. In order to protect something, we must first understand it. Explorers are both pioneers and the banner wavers of wilderness advocacy.

Protected Areas. I believe parks work. They benefit local communities, visitors and wilderness alike. Setting aside natural areas into national and international parks, and other forms of protected areas is a critical tool for their long term persistence.  This is particularly true in our global ocean, where less than 1% is protected (compared to ~15% on land).

Awareness, Education & Inspiration. I believe people protect what they love. They love what they know. We all have a deep, unbreakable bond with wilderness. We just sometimes need to be reminded of it.

Wilderness Public Trusts. As a step beyond insular protected areas, I call for a global system of Wilderness Trusts. The model that the world has created with Antarctica and the Southern Ocean as a common heritage of all humankind should be expanded to protect the other last expanses of Earth wilderness. Where such wilderness lies within national jurisdictions, a nation’s sovereignty should be transformed into a stewardship role supported politically and economically by the international community. Wilderness on the global High Seas should look similar to the current Antarctic framework, and include strictly protected zones of ecological importance.