Beginnings of the Conservation Movement

  • László Erdős


In the course of western civilisation, wilderness was usually regarded as worthless and hostile, something that had to be destroyed, subdued, tamed or exploited. This attitude started to change fundamentally in the nineteenth century. American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was among the first to notice the aesthetic and spiritual value of nature. His friend and mentee Henry David Thoreau spent more than two years in a forest at Walden Pond to experience simple living and the beauties of the natural world. The views of Emerson and Thoreau culminated in the work of John Muir, the father of the national parks, co-founder of the Sierra Club, one of the greatest icons in the history of nature conservation. A philosopher, nature writer, and conservation activist, Muir led millions to appreciate nature’s treasures and advocate conservation efforts.


Romanticism Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau John Muir Walden Yosemite Sierra Club Wilderness 

Worth Reading

  1. Muir, J. (1998). A thousand-mile walk to the Gulf. Boston: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  2. Muir, J. (2011). My first summer in the Sierra. Boston: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  3. Muir, J. (2018). The Yosemite. Mineola: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Thoreau, H. D. (2009). Walden or, life in the woods. New York: Cosimo Classics.Google Scholar

Worth Watching

  1. The Unruly Mystic: John Muir (2017)Google Scholar
  2. National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • László Erdős
    • 1
  1. 1.MTA-DE Lendület Functional and Restoration Ecology Research Group, DebrecenInstitute of Ecology and Botany MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchVácrátótHungary

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