Conceptions of Wilderness in North American Protected Area Planning and Management

Mann, Geoff Price
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University of Guelph

Interpretations of "wilderness" in North America are widely varied. As such, the values attributed to wilderness also vary. The most common approach to wilderness protection-protected area planning and management-generally attempts to strictly define wilderness, or restricts its definitions unintentionally, thereby limiting the capacity of the protected area to protect the diversity of interpretations of wilderness. This study uses techniques of literary criticism to examine the management plans of six protected areas in northern Canada and Alaska to understand the possibility of the persistence of this interpretive diversity within the language of the plans. Because of the inability of the plans, as legal documents, to allow for the many "wilderness," it is concluded that the word "wildernesses," it is concluded that the word "wilderness" is not appropriate for protected area management. Instead, it is suggested that "wilderness" is in fact a metaphor for a particular human relationship to the landscape.

Wilderness, North America, Conceptions, Protected area, Management