The wild side of natural
Wild areas in which natural processes are left to reign supreme are commonly called ‘wilderness’, and in the US there exist designated ‘wilderness areas’ under the Wilderness Act, where no economic exploitation is allowed. The term is often used loosely in Britain, in which very few such areas are devoid of the present impact of agriculture and forestry, let alone past impacts. There has been much debate over definitions of wilderness and what is natural, and no conference on the subject of wilderness management has been complete without some academic discourse on its parameters and meaning.1 However, ‘wilderness’ as a term, whilst useful to many, especially in America, is fraught with misunderstanding for the situation in Britain. This is perhaps because wilderness has both an ecological and spiritual dimension. For some, wildernesses are desolate places outside of the humanized realm, either to be avoided or brought under some kind of human dominion, and for others, they are places to practice humility, experience a certain vulnerability and acknowledge the creative and even destructive powers of the natural world.