European Wilderness SocietyWilderness

To Spare or Share Wilderness

An interesting article was written by Fred Pearce: Sparing vs. Sharing: The Great Debate Over How to Protect Nature, was published in December 2018 at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. That text analyzed two alternatives for how we should protect nature – either by Sparing or by Sharing.

Bistrishko Branishte-30011.jpg - European Wilderness Society - CC NonCommercial-NoDerivates 4.0 International
Bistrishko Branishte nature reserve, Bulgaria

The author in that text looked over what is the best way to save nature: whether to cordon off areas for parks and open space or to integrate conservation measures on the land that is actively used and managed. The research makes a case for each of these approaches and has reignited a long-standing debate among scientists and conservationists.

This text also motivated the team of European Wilderness Society to apply these two alternatives to the context of European Wilderness.

Please also read: Wilderness in US and Europe to learn about value of Wilderness in Europe.

Meaning of words

The fundamental question that popped up at the beginning of our analysis was how to define the words “sparing” and “sharing” in the context of Wilderness. This was our first step and we had to discover if these terms could even be applied to Wilderness.

Our inquiry revealed that both words are indeed relevant to the context of Wilderness. However, during the analysis we found out that the word sharing was especially complex and required a careful definition. This was because sharing in the context of Wilderness could mean both the use of natural resources as well as the use of the land in less tangible ways, such as the learning from and experiencing of Wilderness.

“How to manage Wilderness and what best-practice Wilderness stewardship means is a complex and on-going debate. Applying the sharing vs sparing argument to Wilderness allowed us to consider these questions in a thoughtful way. It also framed the idea of Wilderness in its broadest capacity. Our inquiry raised questions not only of Wilderness management in Europe but about why we value Wilderness at all and, more specifically, how we value Wild land. Whether we “share” or “spare” Wilderness not only reflects our management polices but also our relationship to Wild nature.”

Henry Luedtke
European Wilderness Society

To read the full paper The European Wilderness Society wrote on this topic, see this pdf:

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