Climate Change, Wilderness, Human Relations
RMRS scientists at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute have been cooperating with scientists in other circumpolar north countries to better understand the forces that protect and threaten human relationships with wilderness in the Arctic. Most recently, working under a resolution passed by tribal leadership of the Qikiktagrugmiut (native Inupiaq) of Kotzebue, Alaska, a science team led by Alan Watson of the Leopold Institute identified a combination of threats that are changing Inupiaq relationships with the Western Arctic Parklands. Native Inupiaq believe that wilderness contributes to their identity, maintaining a traditional way of life, contributes to survival of individuals and families, provides opportunities for personal growth, expression of humility, and maintenance of mental and physical health, as well as expression of independence associated with self-sufficiency. These are values not specified in our Wilderness Act, but received by these people through wilderness protection. They believe these values are threatened most by global warming and globalization as well as outside pressures imposed by tourists and some federal agency management actions. More research has been proposed to better understand the role of federal land managers in protecting these relationships and working with native Inupiaq to anticipate future changes.
Contact Alan Watson for additional information.