Tasmania's Wilderness Battles: A History

Tasmania's Wilderness Battles: A History

Tasmania's Wilderness Battles: A History

Tasmania's Wilderness Battles: A History

Excerpt

Wilderness is as much a state of mind as it is a physical reality. Humankind needs wilderness for peace of mind, for release and to make sense of the largely artificial world it has created for itself US philosopher Richard Jeffrey once said: 'The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours we truly know'. When the mind is steeped in the spirituality of wilderness it is capable of assuming the type of completeness and connectedness suggested by Jeffrey. Wilderness is a church where you only need believe in the beauty of the natural world around you. As the number of people in the world grows, and as development spreads, we need wilderness more than ever. Another US philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, captured the importance of wilderness to us all when he said: 'in Wildness is the preservation of the world ... in short, all good things are wild and free'. As humans build ever-larger castles of commerce, government and consumption we need everstronger bridges to the serenity of wilderness that lies beyond the castle moats.

Yet despite our increasing need for wilderness, it is in retreat. In 1700, before the Industrial Revolution got under way, there were about 3.5 billion hectares of forest in the world but today there is only about 2 billion hectares left. We are destroying our church. If we do not stop soon, wilderness will become a museum piece: a long-forgotten concept that future generations will only know about by reading history books. Founder of the Friends of the Earth conservation group, David Brower, said of the fragility of wilderness:

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