Aldo Leopold was Born in Burlington, Iowa in 1887. Leopold was considered the father of wildlife ecology and a true Wisconsin hero. He was a legend when it comes to conservation and wildlife management. These were not only his only attributes to the wild outdoors. Leopold was a forester, environmentalist and an author. In 1933 Leopold became the Professor of Game Management in the Agriculture Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Leopold also attended Yale University’s School of Forestry. While at Yale, he worked many years for the U.S. Forest Service In the Arizona and Mexico territories. Leopold was a Game Consultant as well, chairing the country’s first Department of Game Management at the university of Wisconsin.
His love for the wilderness led to the writing of A Sand County Almanac , which was made up of 41 essays and was published in 1949, eighteen months after his death. His writings are known for there simple directness about the need for wise use of land and water resources. He past away helping fight a neighbors brush fire in 1948.
While reading A Sand County Almanac, I stumbled upon a quote that got me thinking a lot about what some of us take for granted every day. “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” An ethic ecologically, “is a limitation on freedom of action in the struggle for existence.” An Ethic philosophically, “is a differentiation of social from anti- social conduct.” These are both definitions of one thing, that one thing is the tendency of individuals or groups to evolve modes of co-operation.
Some examples of ethics include the Golden Rule, which tries to integrate man to society. Also Democracy, which integrates social organization to the individual. There has not been an ethic that deals with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. The land relation is still economic, giving privileges but not obligations. The land ethic simply expands the boundaries of the community, including soil, water, plants, and animals or in a simpler term: the land.
This sounds simple, and I know most sportsmen practice land ethics every day, but take a look at everything that is being dumped into the rivers, the soil which at least around me has been stained orange from acid mine drainage flowing into the creeks, making it uninhabitable for any type of aquatic animal. The plants also, even though they may be over looked, serve a major role in the ecosystem. They are being cut down in tremendous numbers and who ever is doing it probably has no idea about the effects to the plant community and the organisms within it.
There have been some positive scenarios though, in Kentucky where there used to be old strip mines, they now home over 11,000 head of elk and are continuing to thrive. To sum it up a land ethic changes the role of man from conqueror of the land community to simply a member and citizen of it. It implies respect for fellow members, and also respect for the community as well.
I urge everyone to try and find out what part of nature that you have taken for granted and figure out a way to look at it with a new found respect.