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Conservation Biology - 2. A History of Conservation in North America

Course Code
BIOL 3130
Andrew Mac Dougall

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Conservation Biology: Lecture Notes
2. A Brief History of Conservation in North America
1. Proximity leads to disdain
oEarly settlers had no interest in conservation
oDriven by fear, religion, by desperation (escaping persecution in Europe).
oCoincided with the destruction of Native American peoples and cultures.
oFew dissenting voices
oCatherine Parr Trail (early 1800s)
Sister was biographer of Queen Victoria
Coburg, Ontario (Rice Lake Plains)
Her writings have become critical for restoration…
2. It begins in the cities…
oAs cities grew, so did interest in wilderness.
oReaction against the ‘de-humanizing’ effects of the industrial revolution and urban
living, shifts in thinking (God could only be found in untrammeled nature, and the
peoples that lived there [‘noble savages’] –Jean-Jacques Rousseau).
oThe birth of the natural sciences! –nature as a living laboratory
3. Transcendentalism…
o“The beauty and perfection of nature reflected some higher spiritual truth”.
oHenry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman
oTurned early puritanical views on their head…development bad, nature good
oMassive resurgence of interest: 1960s, 1970s
oThe presence of wilderness nearby became important, and the destruction of
wilderness some how meant destroying our connection with the divine
4. The first calls for preservation…
oGeorge Catlin (1830s) was the first to conceive of the idea of a government-created
5. The first parks
oYellowstone 1872
oBanff National Park 1883
oAdirondack Hills 1885
Prevent rampant development (e.g., Niagara Falls)
Protect drinking water
The weird and unusual (geysers)
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