This chapter explores some of the potential outcomes for nature conservation. It begins with the Rio Convention on biodiversity which, despite providing a common global purpose, is unfortunately not always understood and is sometimes misrepresented. For example, one of the more common misconceptions is that there is an obligation, in all circumstances, to maximise diversity.
There are no universally accepted definitions of natural or of wilderness but, whatever definition we use, taking a global perspective, the protection of the last surviving tracts of wilderness must be the highest nature conservation priority. The value of cultural landscapes and their semi-natural habitats is explored. Many parts of the world have few wilderness areas: in place of wilderness we have a glorious landscape that has been shaped over thousands of years as the mainly unintentional by-product of generations of people toiling to provide a living for their families.
Many conservation managers and scientists suggest that ‘natural values’ are a priority and should guide all nature conservation outcomes. Wildlife management is often about moving from a less natural to a more natural state, or about attempting to maintain the natural elements within systems and populations. The implications of the three varieties of naturalness (Peterken 1993) are discussed: original naturalness, the state that existed before man became a significant ecological factor; present naturalness, the state that would prevail now if man had not become a significant ecological factor; and future naturalness, the state which would develop if man’s influence were completely and permanently removed. These definitions provide an extremely useful basis for academic debate: they may not represent something that we want for the future, but they can help us explore the options. It should be possible to create at least some sustainable places where, as far as possible, we rely on, or enable, natural processes, where opportunities for wildlife are optimal, where human interaction is not exploitation, and where our mutual dependence is recognised. In other words, could these be tomorrow’s natural places?
Keywords biodiversity, cultural landscapes, natural, natural processes, semi-natural, values, wilderness
KeywordsNatural Process Natural World Cultural Landscape Human Influence Natural Element
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