The natural ecological value of wilderness

  • Authors: Cordell, H. Ken; Murphy, Danielle; Riitters, Kurt H.; Harvard, J.E.
  • Publication Year: 2005
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: In: The Multiple Values of Wilderness: 205-249


In Chapters 7 through 10 of this book, we examined the social and economic benefits or values from Wilderness. In this chapter, we attempt to examine the natural ecological values of Wilderness. We define ecological value generally as the level of benefits that the space. water, minerals, biota, and all other factors that make up natural ecosystems provide to support native life forms. Ecological values can accrue to both humans and nonhumans alike. To humans, these benefits typically are bestowed externally as cleaner air and water. To nonhuman species. these ecological benefits are usually much more direct and on-site. Ecosystems contribute their greatest ecological value when they are in their most natural state. In their most natural state, they are at their peak of natural health and provide their greatest level of native life support. Native life support is the ecological value of Wilderness. Cole (2000) has argued that ecological value is directly and positively correlated with degree of naturalness. We will argue that such measurements of naturalness as we can devise or discover are our best shot at demonstrating whether Wilderness has greater ecological value than non-Wilderness lands.

  • Citation: Cordell, H. Ken; Murphy, Danielle; Riitters, Kurt H.; Harvard, J.E., III 2005. The natural ecological value of wilderness. In: The Multiple Values of Wilderness: 205-249
  • Posted Date: December 1, 2006
  • Modified Date: May 14, 2007
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.