chapter  5
44 Pages

Wilderness, nature and gardens

Robert Louis Stevenson (1879) Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, Kegan Paul

5.1 Wilderness ecosystems Wilderness ecosystems are those where the imprint of human activity is minimal and which are valued for their resources and their "naturalness". As such places like ice caps, deserts, mountain ranges and forests can be seen as wildernesses. They are essentially unmanaged and they can be with or without protective designation, such as a Protected Area classification. National Parks vary in their degree of management in different countries, and thus might appear as "wilderness" in this chapter, especially in the example of the USA (as discussed by Henderson (1992) who contrasts the North American and UK experiences) while indeed UK National Parks are perhaps so intensively used that they are really part of the domesticated landscape. Nature reserves and plantation forests are here regarded as part of the managed landscape. Wilderness then covers a category of non-domesticated land where natural landscapes, processes and products are given intrinsic value. Shafer and Hammitt (1995) cite the USA 1964 Wilderness Act as providing five descriptors:

• natural, • solitude, • primitive, • unconfined and • remote. Utility is focused on the experience of "naturalness" or on the extraction of products with limited or minimal impact on the ecosystem. The cultural imprint is largely in terms of recreation, including footpaths and other access areas. Development such as access, recreational facilities and hotels is often the subject of some contention, as may be the practices which involve extraction.