Naturalness and biodiversity: policy and philosophy of conserving natural areas

Environmental Law Institute
Publication date:


Maintaining natural conditions and processes, or “naturalness,” is an essential goal in the management of wilderness, national parks, and other protected areas. Yet management experts routinely recommend the abandonment of naturalness as a required goal in protected areas. There are many examples of native biodiversity being lost or threatened as a result of managers manipulating protected areas to conserve “what we value” without respect for natural conditions. Too often, agencies seemingly ignore environmental goals expressed within federal law and policy in their efforts to satisfy consumer preferences, resulting in environmental degradation.Naturalness and Biodiversity: Policy and Philosophy of Conserving Natural Areas is primarily concerned with the preservation of national parks, wilderness, and other legally protected areas through proper interpretation and application of federal environmental law and policy. Philosophers, legal scholars, and land use managers alike will appreciate the interdisciplinary approach Prof. Gordon Steinhoff takes with his discussion of philosophy, ecology, and environmental policy. Although Naturalness and Biodiversity may be controversial, calling into question much that has been written by philosophers and by leading land management and restoration experts, it offers a needed response to much that appears in the current environmental literature, providing thoughtful analysis on why naturalness is essential for the preservation of native biodiversity.

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