University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas
expand section 
expand section 

expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionII. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionII. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIV. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionIII. 
collapse sectionI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionVII. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIV. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionIV. 
expand sectionIV. 
expand sectionIV. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionVI. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionIII. 
expand sectionVI. 


The word conservation has its origins in the Latin term
conservare, meaning “to guard,” and has been passed
on to English through the Old French verb conserver.
The dictionary definition equates it with preservation,
guarding, protecting, or with the related word “con-
servancy.” In its modern usage, however, and relation


to natural resources, conservation has become a well-
known idea only during the twentieth century and
largely through the efforts of such men as Gifford
Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt in the United States
(Pinchot, 1947).

During the twentieth century conservation has
formed the basis for scientific, economic, and political
attitudes toward man's environment. In the decade of
the 1960's in particular it has attracted many sup-
porters, each with a somewhat different idea of its
meaning. The definition accepted in 1969 by the
United Nations and the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature is “the rational use of the
environment to achieve the highest quality of living
for mankind.” This definition covers a wide range of
ideas that could only be discussed in a long book. In
this brief account, some of the development of these
ideas in Western culture will be examined. However,
conservation as an activity if not as a philosophy is
to be found in all human cultures. It is of ancient origin.

Natural resources are variously defined in textbooks
as “elements of the natural environment come into the
service of man” (Smith, 1950); “uncaptured natural
stores which are useful to mankind in any way” (Allen,
1959), or those natural “materials, areas, or living
things considered useful or of value to a particular
human culture” (Dasmann, 1968). This concept, like
that of conservation, has had a shifting meaning over
time. In 1969 resources are being equated with the
sum total of the physical and biological environment
for man on earth.

Concern over population increase or decrease is
probably as old as mankind. Unquestionably at many
times in human history, local populations exerted pres-
sure upon local environments, and through this dis-
turbance of the conditions of living endangered their
own survival. The origin of primitive means for popu-
lation control can be attributed to such recurring pre-
historic dilemmas. However, concern for the dangers
inherent in a worldwide increase of the human species
can be considered of recent, probably eighteenth-
century, origin, since it was at this time that the di-
mensions of the world and the potentials for human
population increase were first well understood. Wide-
spread apprehension over such dangers, and the con-
cept of a “population explosion” followed World War
II. The relationship between world population increase
and world conservation appears to have been first
defined and stressed in popular language by William
Vogt (1948) and by Fairfield Osborn (1948).

It is impossible to identify the time when man first
became aware of the consequences of excessive use or
misuse of the resources of his environment, and took
measures to protect himself and his habitat—measures
that are today characterized as conservation. The evi-
dence for such awareness is to be found, however,
among most primitive peoples and among the historical
evidences of man's use of the land. Edward Graham
(1947) has reviewed some practices of the early Eskimo
that fully qualify as conservation practices. Stewart
Udall (1963) discusses the reverence felt by the Ameri-
can Indians for the lands on which they depended, and
the skill with which they cultivated and fertilized their
gardens. The adaptation of various primitive land-use
practices to environmental realities is discussed in Carl
Sauer (1952).

It may be generalized that primitive peoples learned
those conservation practices that permitted their sur-
vival, although the abstract idea of conservation was
probably neither understood nor stated. Man's early
view of “natural resources” would necessarily be lim-
ited by his technology, and would at first include only
those plants and animals useful for food or other pur-
poses, water, and places in the environment suited to
various needs. Much that is regarded today as a “natu-
ral resource,” metallic ore, for example, would have
no known value to primitive man. Much that he
regarded as of great value, obsidian for spearheads,
for example, would scarcely be considered a natural
resource today except as a part of a broader environ-

In the written records of mankind the idea of con-
servation is closely related to man's view of the natural
world and of his relationship with nature. It can be
reasoned that the idea of nature or of a natural world
did not occur until man, through civilization, had
created an environment different from and in part
separate from the surrounding world. But long before
the obvious differences between the city and wild land
had appeared, man had been modifying the environ-
ment in which he lived. Sauer (1952) has emphasized
the role of Paleolithic man in changing his environment
through the use of fire, and of his role in the extermi-
nation of the larger wild animals that had survived the
Ice Ages. From the time when man first practiced
agriculture and began to domesticate animals, the con-
trast between the tamed agricultural landscape and the
wild, untouched country elsewhere must have been
apparent. Clarence Glacken (1967) has pointed out that
the contrast between man and nature observed by the
Greeks and Romans was less the contrast between the
city and the wilderness, for the latter was little known
to them, than that between the city and the rural
landscape of farms, pastures, and woodlands.

In the literature of the Western world a clear de-
scription of a conservation problem first appears in the
writings of Plato. In Critias he attributes the decline
in the fertility of Attica to deforestation, soil erosion,


and the consequent disruption of the hydrology of
mountain watersheds.

A. O. Lovejoy (1936) attributes to the Timaeus of
Plato the “principle of plenitude,” an idea of major
significance to modern conservation and to the science
of ecology. Essentially this states that the world is
better the more things and the more variety it contains;
that there is a striving in nature toward diversity,
toward the filling of all vacant niches in the environ-
ment with differing kinds of living things. The philoso-
phy of those who today seek to preserve the maximum
variety of living species may be traced back to this
beginning. The writings of Charles Elton (1958) and
Raymond Dasmann (1968) develop the more recent
scientific basis for the ecological “principle of diver-

Glacken (1967) has traced to such ancient Greeks
as Anaxagoras, Anaximander, Empedocles, and Plato
the general concept of a terrestrial unity in the midst
of diversity, of an earth that is a fit environment for
people and other forms of life. The Greek concept of
the ecumene, sometimes translated as the inhabited or
inhabitable world, is clearly related to the modern
ecological concept of the biosphere—the thin film of
air, water, and soil on the surface of the earth, upon
which all life depends, and within which it exists.

Sound guides to land care based upon conservation
principles appear by the third century B.C. in some
of the writings of the Hellenistic period. Thus, The
Tebtunis Papyri
of Egypt includes instructions for the
management of irrigated lands, for sowing, planting,
and land care (Glacken, 1967). But long before this
the Egyptians had been practicing empirically a high
degree of sound conservation in their management of
the lands of the Nile Valley. It is significant that these
lands have supported civilization over five millennia,
without serious impairment until recent times.

Some agricultural conservation with particular at-
tention to the maintenance of soil fertility and the
prevention of soil erosion was well established in
Roman times and has been perpetuated in the writings
of Cato, Columella, and Pliny. In Roman times also
the movement of water over long distances to reclaim
lands through irrigation had reached a level of devel-
opment not to be equaled again in the Western world
until the twentieth century. In this period also there
is a forerunner of the controversies to be waged be-
tween the builders of dams and the conservationists
of twentieth-century America. In the writings of Tac-
itus is an argument against the damming of rivers and
the changing of their courses, pleading the loss of
long-established farming lands. “Nature has made the
best provision for the interests of humanity, when she
assigned to rivers their proper mouths—their proper
courses—their limits as well as their origins. Consid-
eration, too, should be paid to the faith of their fathers,
who had hallowed rituals and groves and altars to their
country streams. Besides they were reluctant that Tiber
himself, bereft of his tributary streams, should flow with
diminished majesty” (Glacken [1967], p. 135).

The writings of Columella (first century A.D.) show
great understanding of the relationship between misuse
of the lands and their declining fertility. His descrip-
tions of the ways in which soil fertility is derived and
maintained under undisturbed conditions follows
closely that of modern ecologists. Pliny carries this
reasoning further, and recommends such practices as
contour plowing to prevent loss of soils on the hillsides
(Glacken, 1967). However, long before this time the
Phoenicians had terraced the hills of Lebanon as a soil
conservation measure.

Lewis Mumford (1961) has pointed out that in an-
cient Rome the full enormity of many of our modern
problems of pollution had been recognized. Efforts to
cope with them led to the construction of the great
sewer, the cloaca maxima, of Rome, as a means for
removing water-borne wastes, but this was at best a
partial solution. The disposal of solid wastes remained
a serious problem for all of the large cities of ancient

Perhaps because man's own existence was continu-
ally threatened in the European world that existed
from the fall of Rome into the Middle Ages, there
appears to be little writing relative to conservation.
From the seventeenth century onward, however, with
the agency of man on earth securely established and
his hegemony reinforced by the growing industrial
revolution, a concern for nature and for the growth
of human populations becomes more apparent.

An interest in wildlife conservation, related to an
interest in hunting, appears to be of great antiquity
among the writings of mankind. Thus there is an in-
scription attributed to Sennacherib, describing the
establishment of a wildlife sanctuary near Nineveh—an
effort that would do credit to the best modern wildlife
conservationists (Graham, 1947). Efforts to preserve
game through regulation of human hunting and trap-
ping of wildlife has a long history, but is related com-
monly to the desire to preserve suitable hunting
grounds for royalty rather than any broad concern for
wildlife as such. Aldo Leopold (1933) has traced the
development of game laws from biblical injunctions
through Greco-Roman times to the present British and
American legal concepts. Graham (1947) in a similar
review of the history of wildlife conservation points
out that the American view of ownership and authority
over wild animal life relates back to the British view
that wildlife was the property of the Crown. Thus,


fee-simple ownership of land in America includes the
ownership of vegetation and underground resources,
but not of the wild animals that live on the land.

Although there are many forerunners, a broad, mod-
ern view of conservation becomes most clearly appar-
ent in two seventeenth-century works. John Evelyn,
a founder of the Royal Society of London for Improv-
ing Natural Knowledge (1662), in his Silva: or a dis-
course of forest trees
... (1664), provided a view of
the consequences of deforestation in Great Britain, and
recommended the establishment of forestry as a science
and a concern of the Royal Society. His writings go
beyond forest conservation to expound ideas of land
management to create a landscape more pleasing as
well as useful to people. He presents one of the early
descriptions of the causes and consequences of air
pollution, already a serious concern in London because
of the industrial use of soft coal. At approximately the
same time in France work was progressing under the
leadership of Louis XIV's minister, Colbert, to produce
the French Forest Ordinance of 1669. Motivated also
by the evidence of increasing forest destruction and
its consequences, the writers of this ordinance sought
to present a plan for sound land management to be
applied to all of France.

Increasing knowledge of natural history and biology,
and an ever broadening view of the realities of the
global environment gave greater scope to eighteenth-
century ideas of conservation. The ability of G. W.
Leibniz to define order in the midst of apparent chaos
foreshadowed the work of modern technology and
ecology. The establishment by Carolus Linnaeus of a
philogenetic classification of living species provided a
basis for describing and analyzing nature that permit-
ted the development in the next century of Charles
Darwin's evolutionary theory. It also paved the way
for ecological understanding, and for greater human
concern over the fate of wild species. Immanuel Kant
analyzed the distinction between natural and man-
made processes on earth, and recognized man as an
agency causing change on earth comparable to a geo-
logical force (Sämtliche Werke, 8, 300). J. W. von
Goethe showed an understanding of the relationships
between organisms and environment that was later to
be substantiated by ecologists. However, the works of
Count Buffon and of Alexander von Humboldt reflect
some of the major advances in thinking relative to
conservation during the eighteenth and early nine-
teenth centuries.

Among his many accomplishments, including that
of providing a basis for the science of biogeography,
Humboldt was able to perceive the concept of a unity
and prevailing order in nature, exhibiting itself in
various environments in great variety and complexity.
He described with accuracy the major communities of
vegetation on earth, the natural processes operating
on them and the effects of man's activities, and pro-
vided a foundation for ecology and conservation.

Count Buffon brought together much of the knowl-
edge of natural history available in his day. His interest
lay in the agency of man on earth, rather than in wild
nature as such. He distinguished the role of man in
making the earth more fit for his own occupancy, and
also his role as an exploiter and destroyer of natural
resources. In one sense he can be considered a fore-
runner of those technologists who believe that through
the application of science the earth can be made in-
creasingly fruitful for ever increasing numbers of men.

The dangers inherent in the increase in human num-
bers on a limited earth exercised the thinking of many
during the late eighteenth century. Noteworthy were
M. J. de Condorcet, William Godwin, and Thomas
Malthus. The argument in which they were engaged
continues with similar vigor today. The Marquis de
Condorcet foresaw an infinite perfectibility in human
institutions. Although concerned with the potential for
increase in human populations, he foresaw man's abil-
ity to cope with this problem when it arose. He was
not unaware of the need for an ultimate limitation on
the numbers of mankind but believed implicitly in
man's future ability to limit his own increase and not
to “encumber the world with useless and wretched

Godwin had less faith in human institutions, but
more in individuals. He could not foresee any real
environmental limitations on either the numbers of
man or his individual perfectibility. It was against
Godwin in particular, but also de Condorcet, that the
essays of Malthus were directed. In his view human
perfectibility was a chimera, human population in-
crease inexorable. Despite man's best intentions he was
bound to run afoul of the limited capacity of the earth
to provide for his sustenance. He foresaw a time of
misery when populations would exert pressure upon
the farthest boundaries of the earth. Only in the latter
half of the twentieth century has the evidence in sup-
port of Malthus' thesis become widely available, but
the argument continues to rage between those who see
applied technology as the answer to population prob-
lems, and those who view dismally the limits of the

It is necessary next to move to America to follow
the trend of ideas relating to conservation, since it is
in the United States that the concept has received its
greatest development.

In the colonization of the New World the emigrants
of Europe were placed in a position similar to that
of primitive man. Wild nature was omnipresent; man's


influence and power seemed insignificant. The issue at
stake was survival for the fragile first colonies, not a
concern for the preservation of nature. The concept
of a relatively limitless continent with inexhaustible
resources unquestionably dominated popular thinking
during most of colonial times. Yet the danger of running
out of some needed resource seemed apparent to cer-
tain individuals even at a time when overall space and
resources were obviously vast. Thus, in the seventeenth
century, in the earliest of colonial times, a concern for
game preservation appears. In 1677, the colony of
Connecticut provided for the regulation of hunting,
and prohibited the export of game, hides, or skins
(Graham, 1947). Protection of wildlife through regula-
tion of hunting was established in twelve of the thirteen
American colonies by the time of the revolution
(Palmer, 1912). Forest conservation attracted attention
at an even earlier date, so that by 1626 Plymouth
Colony passed an ordinance prohibiting the cutting of
timber on colony lands without official permission. In
1681 William Penn provided that one acre of forest
land be left untouched for every five that were cleared.
As early as 1799, the federal stake in forests was recog-
nized when Congress provided for a forest reserve to
supply ship's timbers to the Navy (Illick, 1939).

At a time when the American wilderness appeared
endless and had scarcely been explored, a wilderness
traveller, George Catlin, artist and student of the In-
dian, foresaw a time when wilderness might disappear.
Witnessing the slaughter of buffalo, he could envisage
their disappearance from the plains of America, and
with them the Indians who depended upon them. In
his journal for 1832 he proposed, for the first time,
the concept of a national park in which the wild lands
in all of their beauty, the animals, and the primitive
Indians also, might jointly be protected for the ages
to come. Several decades were to pass before Ameri-
cans could accept the need for such a park.

The awakening of an American interest in the beauty
of nature, the value of wilderness, and an appreciation
of wildlife, owes much to the writings of such men
as William Bartram, who explored the wild country
of the East and South, and described it in his Travels
(1791); James Fenimore Cooper, whose Last of the
appeared in 1826; and the writing and
painting of John James Audubon, which began to ap-
pear in the 1830's. However, a broad philosophy of
nature and man in America owes its origin in particular
to Henry David Thoreau. Although a dweller in the
rural woodlands rather than the Western wilderness,
his appreciation of the values of the natural world
transcended his geographical limitations. In his religion
and philosophy he is indebted to his friend Ralph
Waldo Emerson. Both saw in man and nature a mani
festation of divine being. Thoreau saw in nature the
possibility for true human freedom and spiritual en-
richment. His oft-quoted phrase “in Wildness is the
preservation of the World” reflects his philosophy, and
was first stated in 1851. In 1858 he called for the
creation of national parks in which wilderness could
be preserved.

Thoreau's moral view of man's relationship with
nature, recognizing an obligation toward it and a spiri-
tual enrichment to be derived from it, is carried on
by George Perkins Marsh whose Man and Nature
(1864) is a scientific, comprehensive account of the
worldwide impact of man upon the natural world,
including the consequences of deforestation and
watershed abuse. Marsh saw in the ruined lands around
the Mediterranean the probable future of the new lands
being recklessly misused in America. He called for a
program of action to restore and rebuild the land,
essentially the creation of a conservation movement.
Unlike Thoreau, Marsh was practically oriented, and
concerned with the use of natural resources under
proper limits to improve the lot of mankind. He thus
bridged the gap to arise later between utilitarian con-
servation and the believers in nature preservation as

It is worth noting that the thoughts and words of
all who preceded Marsh had little influence upon the
course of events in the world. Destruction of natural
resources, encouraged by the decisions of political men
and carried out by practical men of action, went on
despite all that had been written. Early measures for
conservation had little effect on man's behavior. Laws
were seldom or poorly enforced. What was later to
be known as America's federal department of con-
servation, the Department of the Interior, was estab-
lished in 1849, but in its early decades it was far more
concerned with the transfer of land and resources into
private hands to encourage settlement than it was with
their conservation. Government policy and private
initiative operated on the understanding that nature
was a force to be overcome, not an ally to work with
and cherish. Yet, by the time Marsh's words appeared
in print, the first steps toward arresting the degradation
of natural resources had been taken.

The New York landscape architect, Frederick Law
Olmsted, who had designed Central Park in New York
City (1857-58), visited California in the early 1860's,
and saw the grandeur of Yosemite Valley. Due to his
influence, in part, Congress was persuaded, in the dying
days of the Civil War in 1864, to pass a bill to preserve
this area “for public use, resort and recreation.” The
significance of this act was scarcely realized by those
who engaged in it, but the first step had been taken
toward realizing the dream of Catlin and Thoreau.


Lacking at that time a federal organization to operate
parks, Congress turned Yosemite over to California, as
the nation's first state park.

In 1872, when Ulysses S. Grant was President, a bill
that in Udall's words (1963) was “little-debated and
little understood” passed Congress, and Yellowstone
National Park was created in the wilds of Wyoming.
This first unit in the national park system provided for
the protection of wild nature, and had the greatest
appeal to the followers of the Thoreau tradition. As
a result of the influence of Stephen T. Mather, a
Chicago businessman, the national parks were placed
in 1916 under the administration of a special agency
in the Department of the Interior, the National Park
Service, which Mather was to head. Unfortunately, the
act creating the Service contained wording that pro-
vided a built-in dilemma for those charged with the
administration of the parks. They were told to provide
for public use and enjoyment of the parks while at
the same time leaving them “unimpaired for the en-
joyment of future generations.” With ever-growing use
in the twentieth century the task of avoiding impair-
ment has been at times impossible.

The late 1860's brought into the field men who were
to contribute greatly in later decades to thinking about
natural resources and their use. John Muir, a naturalist
born in Scotland, came to California and began to
explore the Sierra Nevada in 1868. In 1869 the Ameri-
can explorer and geographer, John Wesley Powell,
began his descent of the Colorado River through the
Grand Canyon. Muir deplored the despoiling of nature.
In the tradition of Thoreau he worked for the preser-
vation of great wilderness areas, not as storehouses of
materials, but as sources of spiritual enlightenment and
physical well-being for man. He became a battler for
national parks, with Yosemite his special concern, and
for wildlife and wilderness. With Thoreau he is a foun-
der of the nature “preservationist” school of con-
servation thought. Although Muir's books, such as Our
National Parks
and The Mountains of California were
mostly published after the turn of the century, his
influence was felt strongly during the late nineteenth

John Wesley Powell's Report on the Lands of the
Arid Region of the United States,
published by Con-
gress in 1878, did much to dispel the “myth of abun-
dance” which had influenced the thought of pioneer
America. Surveying the arid West, Powell recognized
the limitations of its capacity to support either agri-
culture or grazing animals, and saw in its watersheds
and their hydrology the key to its future. The rec-
lamation of arid lands through irrigation became a
theme which he pursued throughout his life, although
his goal, a federal role in reclamation, did not become
realized until the creation, in the year of his death
(1902) of a Bureau of Reclamation in the Department
of the Interior. Powell, along with Marsh, recognized
the role that scientific knowledge must play in any
rational policy of land use. Through his influence the
Geological Survey was established in the Department
of the Interior in 1879, and still earlier the private
American Association for the Advancement of Science
was created. The followers of Powell's brand of con-
servation, however, were later to come into frequent
conflict with those of John Muir, as we shall see below.

Under the administration of President Hayes, the
Department of the Interior was headed by Carl Schurz.
In 1877 his first report as Secretary scored the lumber-
men for their depredations of America's public lands,
and called for establishment of a system of federal
forest reserves. It was not, however, until 1891 that
President Harrison was influenced by Interior Secretary
John Noble to establish such reserves. By a brief clause
in a public lands bill, Harrison was authorized by
Congress to establish by proclamation what was later
to become the national forest system of the United

Because the last decades of the nineteenth and the
first of the twentieth centuries in America saw the
culmination of a long period of plunder of natural
resources, and also the end of the frontier period in
history, there was a widespread awakening of interest
in conservation. However, much of this concern was
directed toward the halt of further depredations of
America's resources, and a belief that what was gone
was forever lost. Only a few were thinking of possible
restoration and repair through the operation of natural
ecological processes—of the return of wildlife, the
regeneration of forests, the long-term management of
living resources based on recognition of rates of growth
and of population increase. Ecology was a new science,
and it was not until the appearance of Frederick
Clements' book Plant Succession (1916) and Charles
Elton's Animal Ecology (1927) that it became generally
applied to natural resource management. Forestry was
an exception, and America's first foresters were trained
in Europe where ecological thinking was further ad-
vanced than in America.

Conservation as a national movement in America
owes much to the influence of such men as Gifford
Pinchot, a forester trained in France, and Theodore
Roosevelt, a naturalist who became president. This
early development of the conservation movement is
described in Pinchot's Breaking New Ground (1947).
In his view a “turning point in human history” oc-
curred when Roosevelt called his Governors' Confer-
ence on conservation in 1908. Pinchot's point of view
on forest conservation was use-oriented. Forests, he


found, could be managed to produce crops of trees,
restoring themselves through natural regeneration, or
through man's aid in reforestation. Most lands could
be managed to produce useful products as a “sustained
yield” if care was taken to preserve the soil and a seed
stock. Furthermore, any area of land could be managed
to produce several kinds of useful products such as
water, wood, and wildlife, an idea later to be formal-
ized into the “multiple-use” concept adopted by Pin-
chot's Forest Service for management of national forest

It was inevitable that the Pinchot view of con-
servation, like that of Powell, would clash with that
of John Muir and his followers, who preferred nature
in a wild and undisturbed state and were unattracted
by useful products from former wilderness areas. This
clash first attracted public notice when a proposal to
construct the Hetch-Hetchy dam and reservoir in the
Tuolumne Canyon of Yosemite National Park reached
the attention of John Muir and his followers in his
newly established Sierra Club. To Muir the Tuolumne
was “sacred ground” not to be marred for utilitarian
purposes. To the followers of Pinchot and to Roosevelt,
it was not. Despite Muir's resistance, the dam was

It is significant that one of the more important con-
tributions to the ethical and spiritual view of con-
servation since the time of John Muir came from a
man who was himself basically in the Pinchot tradition
of management for use. Aldo Leopold, who is credited
by many as being the founder of modern, scientifically-
based wildlife management, believed in producing
game for the hunter's pleasure and table. His Game
was the first textbook of wildlife con-
servation, and took into account the principles of ani-
mal ecology of Charles Elton. Nevertheless, he was a
leading exponent of the preservation of wilderness for
the same reasons as those that motivated Catlin,
Thoreau, and Muir. In his A Sand County Almanac
... (1949) he pleaded for the development of an eco-
logical conscience
to guide man's relationships with the
land and his total environment, and for an extension
of ethics to include a land ethic which might lead to
a consideration of nature at least equal to man's con-
sideration for his fellow human beings.

During the twentieth century, and in particular
during its second half, the concept of conservation has
steadily broadened to include all of those relationships
between man and his environment, from the environ-
ment within cities, with their problems of crowding,
congestion, and pollution, through to the preservation
of rare species in remote wilderness regions. Starting
with the works of Vogt and Osborn after World War
II, conservation writings have become concerned with
the problem of human population increase and its
consequences. Ideas and practices of conservation
developed in America have been widely accepted
throughout the world. The international scope of the
conservation movement was indicated by the formation
in 1948 of what is now the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Recent views of the broad scope of conservation are
available in such books as Udall's (1963) or Dasmann's


The idea of conservation, related as it is to the man-nature
theme, can be traced through Clarence Glacken, Traces on
the Rhodian Shore
(Berkeley, 1967). Glacken follows the
theme of nature and culture in Western thought from an-
cient times up through the eighteenth century, and presents
a comprehensive bibliography. William L. Thomas, ed.,
Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth (Chicago,
1956), is the transactions of a conference sponsored by the
Wenner-Gren Foundation, and pursues many of the con-
cepts basic to the idea of conservation. For the development
of the conservation idea in America, Stewart L. Udall, The
Quiet Crisis
(New York, 1963), is particularly useful. It can
be supplemented by Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Gound
(New York, 1947), and by Roderick Nash, The American
Environment: Readings in the History of Conservation

(Reading, Mass., 1968). A history of ideas on wildlife con-
servation is presented by Aldo Leopold, Game Management
(New York, 1933), and Edward H. Graham, The Land and
(New York, 1947). The urban environment and the
conservation problems related to it can be examined in
Lewis Mumford, The City in History (New York, 1961).

The first books relating the world population problem
to the problems of conservation are those of William Vogt,
Road to Survival (New York, 1948), and Fairfield Osborn,
Our Plundered Planet (Boston, 1948), covering the period
of population crisis following the end of the Second World
War. The modern scope of conservation is presented in
Raymond F. Dasmann, Environmental Conservation (New
York, 1968), and in Udall's book mentioned above.

Other references included in the discussion are: Shirley
Allen, Conserving Natural Resources (New York, 1959).
William Bartram, The Travels of William Bartram... (1791;
various reprints). Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon,
Natural History, General and Particular (1749ff.; London,
1812). Frederick Clements, Plant Succession (Pittsburgh,
1916). M. J., Marquis de Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical
Picture of the Conquest of the Human Mind
(1795; New
York, 1955). Charles Elton, Animal Ecology (London, 1927);
idem, The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants
(London and New York, 1958). John Evelyn, Silva: or, A
Discourse of Forest-Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in
His Majesty's Dominion
(1664; later reprints). William
Godwin, Of Population (London, 1820). Alexander von
Humboldt, Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of
the Universe
(1845-62; many editions). Joseph Illick, An


Outline of General Forestry (New York, 1939). Aldo Leopold,
A Sand County Almanac (New York, 1949). Arthur O.
Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History
of an Idea
(Cambridge, Mass., 1936). Thomas Malthus, An
Essay on Population
... (1798; various reprints). George
P. Marsh, Man and Nature, or Physical Geography as Modi-
fied by Human Action
(1864; Cambridge, Mass., 1965). John
Muir, The Mountains of California (New York, 1894); idem,
Our National Parks (Boston, 1901). T. S. Palmer, “Chronol-
ogy and Index of American Game Protection, 1776-1911,”
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Biological Survey, Bulletin
41 (1912). John Wesley Powell, Report on the Lands of the
Arid Region of the United States
(Washington, D.C., 1878).
Carl O. Sauer, Agricultural Origins and Dispersals (Ameri-
can Geographical Society, 1952). Guy-Harold Smith, ed.,
Conservation of Natural Resources (New York, 1950). Henry
David Thoreau, Excursions, the Writings of Henry David
(1863; reprint Boston, 1893).


[See also Environment; Environment and Culture; Evolu-
tionism; Nature; Perfectibility.]