Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Forest and Conservation Science

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Dane Scott

Commitee Members

Peter Landres, Christopher Preston, Dan Spencer, Natalie Dawson


Aldo Leopold, ecological restoration, Endangered Species Act, wilderness, Wilderness Act, wildness


University of Montana


Wilderness and wildness have long been essential values at the heart of American conservation. Both have played critical roles in the formation of environmental ethics, providing a conceptual foundation for the belief that the non-human natural world is valuable for its own sake (Nash, 2001). After grounding and inspiring much of 20th century environmentalism, their influence in the current century has grown increasingly tentative. The arrival of what some have called the “Anthropocene epoch” – a term meant to capture the planetary scale impacts of human activity – now threatens the continued viability and relevance of wilderness and wildness to contemporary conservation. The challenges facing wilderness advocates are both physical and conceptual. Anthropogenic climate change, pollution, and the looming mass extinction crisis are all impacting the biophysical elements of wilderness areas (Stephenson & Millar, 2012; Long & Biber, 2015; Ceballos et al., 2015). At the same time, a growing chorus of “new conservationists” are calling for the abandonment of wilderness and wildness as useful values for guiding conservation (Marris, 2015; Kareiva et al., 2012).



© Copyright 2018 Patrick Ram Kelly