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Traditional wisdom and climate change: Contribution of wilderness stories to adaptation and survival

Posted date: September 20, 2012
Publication Year: 
2012
Authors: Watson, Alan E.; Stumpff, Linda Moon; Meidinger, Jennifer
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: International Journal of Wilderness. 18(2): 21-25.

Abstract

Our Wilderness Act in the United States, passed in 1964, provides a fairly distinct definition of wilderness for the part of society that was successful in parlaying their values, recreation motivations, and political influence into an extremely effective, world-recognized conservation program. But relationships with our National Wilderness Preservation System extend well beyond the typical recreation visitor we might encounter in these areas. For example, due to growing recognition of the downstream importance of protected headwaters of important rivers, and the need for climate change adaptive planning to protect the flow of benefits to humans from protected nature, wilderness science takes on new meaning to our society. In other words, not all relational aspects between wild places and some segments of U.S. society (particularly indigenous peoples) are described well in the 1964 Wilderness Act. To some degree, Alaskan wilderness areas do take into account rural peoples' rights and way of life under ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. However, recent research efforts toward understanding past and future relationships between humans and wilderness (e.g., Watson 2011) have included efforts to articulate perspectives of American Indians (Watson et al. 2011) and Alaska Native (Whiting 2004) people on their evolving relationships with large, relatively intact wild landscapes. This knowledge sheds light on an ancient cultural orientation toward North American wilderness, one different from that described in the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Citation

Watson, Alan; Stumpff, Linda Moon; Meidinger, Jennifer. 2012. Traditional wisdom and climate change: Contribution of wilderness stories to adaptation and survival. International Journal of Wilderness. 18(2): 21-25.