The Need for Roadless (Wilderness)
(Adapted from Rewilding North
Conservation biology came alive in September 1978, when Michael
Soulè organized the first conference on conservation biology in San
Diego. The follow-up from the conference was the 1980 publication of
the anthology, Conservation Biology: An Evolutionary-Ecological
Perspective, shepherded and edited by Michael Soulè and Bruce
Wilcox. That book, with contributions from leading biologists,
focused on the extinction crisis through the lens of island
biogeography. Contributors turned their attention to “the optimal
design of nature reserves”—“the most valuable weapon in our
conservation arsenal,” according to Soulè and Wilcox.
In Continental Conservation, Reed Noss and his coauthors
warn, “Experience on every continent has shown that only in strictly
protected areas are the full fauna and flora of a region likely to
persist for a long time.” What are these strictly protected areas?
“A distinguishing characteristic of core wild areas is limited human
access—that is, low road density or, ideally, roadlessness.”
Large roadless areas are essential for rewilding because they
protect large carnivores and other sensitive species from
depredation and disturbance by people. Dave Parsons, former team
leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf
recovery project, did an in-depth review of how roads impact a
variety of species for The New Mexico Highlands Wildlands Network
Vision, and found that species from wolves to bighorn sheep need
Continental Conservation puts it this way:
Conservation strategies that lack meaningful core areas are naïve,
arrogant, and dangerous. Such approaches assume a level of
ecological knowledge and understanding—and a level of generosity and
goodwill among those who use and manage public lands—that are simply
area designation is the tried and true way to protect roadless areas
and to restore ecologically important areas that currently have some
roads or other human intrusions.
[More information is forthcoming. See
also the EcoWild page.]
America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century
by Dave Foreman (Island Press 2004).
Order from The Rewilding Institute.
Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks
edited by Michael E. Soulè and John Terborgh (Island Press
1999). Particularly Chapter 5 “Core Areas: Where Nature Reigns.”
from The Rewilding Institute.
Legacy: Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity by Reed F. Noss
and Allen Y. Cooperrider (Island Press 1994). Order from Amazon.
Available as a PDF:
Characteristics of Focal Species in the New Mexico Highlands
Wildlands Network by David R. Parsons.
CLICK HERE FOR PDF.
Available in a book
Reed F. Noss et al.
“Core Areas: Where Nature Reigns,” Chapter 5 in Continental