Friday, December 5, 2008

An Argument for Urban Wilderness

What makes remote national parks and forests more deserving of “wilderness” status, of protection and our conservation dollars, and of our appreciation than our urban areas? Both are shaped by a legacy of human use and modification (neither are “natural” or “pristine”), both play a role in local ecologies and ecosystem services, and both afford opportunities for outdoor recreation and communion with nature. And we spend the vast majority of our time in the urban landscape; why shouldn’t we celebrate the wilderness we can find at home - microenvironments with surprising biodiversity, parks and trails worthy of mountain biking and trail running, and environmental education opportunities for our children.

The goal of this project is to explore the idea of wilderness, and specifically to define Urban Wilderness and identify how this concept fits into a broader environmental ethic - growing the constituency of the environmental movement, and shifting the center of the debate from the rural mountains, lakes, and forests to our backyards, workplaces, and communities.

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