Broadly, a wilderness area is a region where the land is left in a state where human modifications are minimal; that is, as a wilderness. It might also be called a wild or natural area. Especially in some wealthier, industrialized nations, it has a more specific land-use meaning as well, as land where development is prohibited by law. Many nations have designated wilderness areas, including South Africa, New Zealand and the United States.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) classifies wilderness at two levels, Ia (Strict Nature Preserves) and Ib (Wilderness areas).
Most scientists and conservationists agree that there is no place on earth that is completely untouched by humanity, either due to past occupation by indigenous people, or through global processes such as climate change. Activities on the margins of specific wilderness areas, such as fire suppression and the interruption of animal migration also affect the interior of wildernesses.
In the United States, a wilderness area is an area within federal lands which is set aside by statute as a nature preserve. Human activities in wilderness areas are restricted to scientific study, hiking and camping; horses are permitted but motorized vehicles and equipment are not.
Wilderness advocates are now turning their eyes northward an d are beginning to perceive the as yet unrealized potential for wilderness opportunities in the Arctic.
Thus, wilderness, which had nurtured humans throughout their evolution into the Stone Ag e, was now abandoned by civilized man and was relegated to the realm of the unknown, engendering the fear and foreboding that humans so typically ascribe to the unknown.
Designation of wildernessareas in the homeland of indigenous peoples of the Arctic by governments and pressures based outside of the Arctic is an ethnocentric act that reflects ignorance of, and insensitivity to, the cultures, interests, and concerns of arctic peoples.
Wildernessareas are large tracts of land which have retained a natural character having little or no evidence of man. These areas are protected and managed in order to safeguard their virtually pristine condition.
Wildernessareas are primitive and peaceful places, providing people with recreational and spiritual opportunities not often found elsewhere.
Wildernessareas are part of our environmental heritage and are open to the public.
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