The Land Ethic
The concept of the Land Ethic was developed by Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac. In this book, Aldo Leopold reflected upon his interaction with the land and how it had enriched him, but how our society tends to trivialize or dismiss the role of the land. The following quotations provide a brief introduction to the Land Ethic concept as envisioned by Leopold:
An ethic [that] presupposes the mental image of the land as a biotic mechanism. We can be ethical only in relation to something that we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in. … [Think of the land as an energy circuit, with energy flowing from the soils to the plants to animals and back.] This thumbnail sketch of the land as an energy circuit conveys three basic ideas:
Leopold’s “violence” is what we now term “impact” or the “trace” addressed by Leave No Trace. Leopold sums up his thought with the following observation:
A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.
The Land Ethic teaches us that we should consider our actions in light of their impact
Are you ready to face the challenge of looking at the land in this fashion? If so, then you understand the Land Ethic.