For most of human history, the greater part of the Earth's terrain was wilderness, and human attention was concentrated in settled areas. The first known laws to protect parts of nature date back to the Babylonian Empire and Chinese Empire. Ashoka, the Great Mauryan King, defined the first laws in the world to protect flora and fauna in Edicts of Ashoka around 3rd Century B.C. In the Middle Ages, the Kings of England initiated one of the world’s first conscious efforts to protect natural areas. They were motivated by a desire to be able to hunt wild animals in private hunting preserves rather than a desire to protect wilderness. Nevertheless, in order to have animals to hunt they would have to protect wildlife from subsistence hunting and the land from villagers gathering firewood. Similar measures were introduced in other European countries.
Early in the 19th century, Wordsworth and other romanticists in the U.K., concerned about "the excesses of industrialization and urbanization," called for a return to natural environments. This movement achieved some gains in protecting sensitive ecosystems, but a more successful form of environmentalism emerged in Germany by the mid-19th century. “Scientific Conservation,” as it was called, advocated "the efficient utilization of natural resources through the application of science and technology." Concepts of forest management based on the German approach were applied in other parts of the world, but with varying degrees of success.
By the later 19th century it had become clear that in many countries wild areas had either disappeared or were in danger of disappearing. This realization gave rise to the conservation movement in the USA, partly through the efforts of writers and activists such as John Burroughs, Aldo Leopold, and John Muir, and politicians such as U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.
Read more about this topic: Wilderness
Famous quotes containing the word preservation:
“Men are not therefore put to death, or punished for that their theft proceedeth from election; but because it was noxious and contrary to mens preservation, and the punishment conducing to the preservation of the rest, inasmuch as to punish those that do voluntary hurt, and none else, frameth and maketh mens wills such as men would have them.”
—Thomas Hobbes (15791688)
“There is something to be said for jealousy, because it only designs the preservation of some good which we either have or think we have a right to. But envy is a raging madness that cannot bear the wealth or fortune of others.”
—François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld (16131680)
“I do seriously believe that if we can measure among the States the benefits resulting from the preservation of the Union, the rebellious States have the larger share. It destroyed an institution that was their destruction. It opened the way for a commercial life that, if they will only embrace it and face the light, means to them a development that shall rival the best attainments of the greatest of our States.”
—Benjamin Harrison (18331901)