Stalking #2: Defining Wildness and the Intricacies of External Intervention

The semester has hurtled forward with lightning speed, and has changed itself and presumably all of us a lot along the way. A study of social science of the region has morphed into the natural science of the region with some humanities and policy material mixed in. Most importantly, in an individual sense, there is a generally better understanding of what is going on and how to handle it. That also could not be more opportune because a new target has also materialized to be stalked. Where before, the focus was the duality and dynamics of growth, now it is the Definition and metaphysics of wildness, which to an extent is not dissimilar to the duality and dynamics idea that was had with growth in the grand scheme of things. Where it is dissimilar, however, is in the level of focus and ideas, which already are proving to be potentially much more cogent, stalk-able, and project worthy. Prior to this new stalking, absorption into this new wildness project was attempted by contemplating the previous work done. All relevant areas were considered, such as the necessities for life provided by wildness and wild places, the opportunities they give for contemplation of broader philosophical truths, and the requirement as a result of these aforementioned resources to define what wildness is, where it exists, and what state of affairs it is in. Additionally, the question and controversy previously considered was contemplated in an effort to synchronize with where the project would go in the future. That question and controversy involved the extent to which order and chaos are inherent to nature and wildness, and whether man should impose one or the other artificially to any considerable extent depending on the prevalence of either force. The initial interpretation of this concept, was achieved with inspiration from Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, Natural Science Lectures on Eutrophication, and Tom Horton’s Bay Country, and concluded that neither is more inherent to wildness than the other. What is important is that man should not try to impose them externally more than is absolutely necessary.

During the second journey, through the ecology and geology of the Chesapeake Region, the group made a discovery of a new dimension of this question, and an opportunity to carry it forward and substantiate it with details. After being exposed to the concept of ecosystem services, it became clear that the extent of intervention as to wildness is often more absolutely necessary than not. In accordance with intersections such as ecology, economy, nature and culture, and field experiences in the refuges coupled with course material in the natural sciences and the social sciences, wildness can be conceptualized in the following way based on the aforementioned relevant areas. Wildness can be defined as a quality of nature that is achieved by nature. It exists in the refuges of the Chesapeake, and is driven by 3 models: preservation, conservation, and restoration. The issue becomes how all of these models fit into the quality of wildness, to what extent are they needed or effective as a means to intervene, and their dynamics due to the fact that they are not exactly mutually exclusive. When approaching the concept of wildness, preservation is often where everything starts. It allows for the designation of area for the wellbeing of species and habitat, it allows natural processes to occur as they should, and it allows man to realize the importance of various ecologically and culturally important resources, which if allowed to thrive make for a better world all around. However, due to human nature, man is always going to gravitate toward that which he cannot have. If the effort is made to rope something off to protect it and maintain its pristine character, not only is man going to find ways to meddle with it, he will also find specific benefits that can be acquired from ecosystems. This is where preservation gets overshadowed by conservation and restoration, given that what becomes more important, is not necessarily cordoning things off in order to keep them the same, but to try to manage the impacts they are experiencing and allow for inclusion of other constituents, usually humans, in order to increase the effectiveness of any of these approaches to wildness. As we explored in the report entitled Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: A Framework for Assessment, by Joseph Alcamo, If humans are not allowed to explore the different types of Ecosystem Services especially: provisioning services which involve food, fuel and resources, and cultural services which involve aesthetic value and recreation, they are not going to have much incentive to want to preserve, conserve, or restore wild places. The dissolution of said places would then reign supreme (pg. 1-25). In an interesting way, this also comments on the idea of cultural materialism that we discussed in the social sciences with Dr. Seidel at the beginning of the semester. Human society and its approach to wildness always goes through a cycle of infrastructure: how it benefits our physical wellbeing, structure: how it benefits our culture, and superstructure: how it influences our belief systems and the way that we conceptualize notions in the world. In closing, We have determined thus far that neither order nor chaos are more inherent to wildness, and that the line between management and confinement of such a quality cannot be pinned to one of these 3 models- preservation, conservation, and restoration, more than the other. No matter how much we can try to keep something the same, external forces- usually recreation and exploitation- will always find their way in, and may even overlap as a trade off for keeping something in a certain state. Now that wildness in the Chesapeake region has been defined, and its shape is constituted by the attempt to protect it against the inevitable but necessary inquisition of human culture, and its materialist framework, the question becomes where to go next. Although one never knows where a road may lead, it seems likely that this one could lead to a comparison. Most likely, the next step would be to ask these same questions in Central America, think back to the work we have done here, and combine those two perspectives to explore something we have not touched on as of yet: the state of affairs in which wildness exists in this contemporary world.

Works Cited

Alcamo, Joseph. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: A Framework for Assessment. Washington: Island Press, 2003. Print.


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