Preservation is not Exclusion

One common misconception about the U.S. National Wilderness Preservation System is that people aren’t allowed into the wilderness areas at all. That’s not the case for the USNWPS, and it’s not the case in the 50/50 vision of preservation, either.

Foremost, the 50/50 vision encompasses the entire planet, and as such, local management of specific issues between preserved and developed areas will need to be regulated and managed on a local basis. The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short and Simple) principle is important for a globally applied policy. At a global level, restrictions on use of preservation areas would include:

  1. Extraction: things (plants, animals, rocks, dirt, minerals, oil, water, etc.) may not be removed from, or be coerced or coaxed out of, preservation areas
  2. Entries: any person may not enter a specific preservation area more than twice in any 12 month period, exception for sworn officers when executing enforcement duties specifically related to this law
  3. Importation: refined metals, advanced materials (composites, glass, ceramics, etc.), electronics and power sources, engines, weapons and waste products may not be brought into preservation areas

A simpler way to look at preservation rules is a series of test cases and whether or not they are permissible by the global rules:

  • Taking a day hike in a preservation area – OK
  • Living in a tent in a preservation area and working in the nearby city – NOT OK (entries)
  • Taking a camping trip into a preservation area for a week – OK
  • Cultivating, or finding, plants inside the preservation area and removing them for any reason – NOT OK (extraction, and likely entries too)
  • Eating berries found while camping or hiking in the preservation area – OK
  • Planting a grove of fruit trees (using no advanced tools), coming back (no more than two entries per year) and eating the fruit – OK, though defense of property rights would be up to local regulations and hard to enforce, irrigation would be near impossible in most cases, and local regulations may restrict the importation of exotic species
  • Killing a deer inside the preservation area and carrying out the meat or hide – NOT OK (extraction, and importation if a metal weapon was used)
  • Killing a deer, with a primitive bow and arrow or snare, inside the preservation area and eating the meat while camping – OK, if local regulations permit
  • Horizontal drilling to extract oil or natural gas from underneath a preservation area – NOT OK (extraction)
  • Burning wood in a campfire – OK, if local regulations permit
  • Setting fire to a grassland, driving game into an adjacent non-preserved area – NOT OK (extraction, and most likely local codes on arson)
  • fishing in a motorized boat, or with metal hooks or mono-filament line – NOT OK (importation, and extraction if you take the fish out of the preservation area)
  • canoeing or kayaking – OK
  • dumping toxic waste into a stream which later enters a preservation area – NOT OK (importation)
  • living an indigenous lifestyle, residing 10 months of the year in the preservation area – OK, if local regulations permit
  • emission of airborne pollution which settles in a preservation area – NOT OK, though enforcement will be up to local officials in the emitting area

the list can go on and on, but exclusions on entries, importation, and extraction should be simple to educate and enforce.

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2 thoughts on “Preservation is not Exclusion

  1. There are various species that require large roaming areas in order to survive (e.g., wild dogs of Africa). It is okay to set rules for humans but how do you set a rule for an animal that needs space and may actually enter the non-preserved areas? The reasoning behind the 50/50 concept though, HABITAT PRESERVATION, I believe, yes, is KEY to maintaining a biodiverse planet… though it can prove difficult to practically enforce. But so is LIFESTYLE CHANGE… not only in westernized societies but in developing societies such as those in South-East Asia that have massive population growth and as a result, uncontrolled resource use.

    • Yes, Africa in particular will be a challenge to preserve, especially due to the remaining megafauna (Elephants, Lions, Giraffe, etc.) When megafauna return to the rest of the planet, they will more or less naturally adapt to the available habitat (I could imagine giant deer evolving in a very short time in the North-American East.) Some of the existing elephant preserves in Africa have an overpopulation problem with the elephants devastating the vegetation, and, clearly, this kind of thing would need more hands-on management than simply keeping people out. As for wanderers like the wild dogs – in the Florida Everglades, there has been some effort at fencing to help preserve the remaining panthers, fences are clearly resource intensive, but I think it might be practical if the enclosed area is large enough (3 million acres), and has broad connection causeways to large adjacent areas.

      The population growth of the past 40 years (from 3.5B to 7B people) is a twisted sort of demonstration that twice as many people can in-fact live on the same amount of land. If significant (50%) habitat preservation were practiced in places like India, I think the people would start to realize and value lifestyle benefits from living adjacent to healthy ecosystems. The “wonderful” tapwater of New York City is a result of the relatively preserved Catskill mountains just to the north. It won’t be easy, or quick, but I hate to imagine a future where only 1% of the earth is preserved for natural systems and 99% is fully exploited by homo-sapiens.

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