Leopold Landscapes

Aldo Leopold is a kind of patron saint for me. I was introduced to his writing when I was in 12th grade. Also important, I grew up near and in Leopold landscapes.

Aldo Leopold got so much right. But in revering Leopold, we are honoring so much more than one man. His genius was to combine his own ideas with those of others and with natural trends. He understood that land ethic is written on the land, by a combination of human choices and natural principle. All of those who work on the land write their own sentences or chapters in combination with the nature on their land. It is a beautiful process, edifying to humanity. The linked article is about ecological restoration. Ecological restoration is not possible. We can use natural principles to regenerate.

From the article – “Ecological restoration, land health, resilience – they are all nouns and as such imply a definitive end-state. Rightly, one could assume we advocate for something both known and achievable. It’s neither. Ecologist Frank Egler said, “Ecosystems are not only more complex than we think, but more complex than we can think.” Worse than being accused of longing for the past is being perceived as fixated on a singular expectation that’s nebulous at best and unattainable at worst. This isn’t just academic mire, but it amounts to a fundamental breakdown in communication. How will we ever democratize our ideas among the billions?

“Ecology is all about – or really only about – relationships.”

We grow in relation to the land we work, with each interaction. The land provides the lessons, but reading them requires effort and it requires time.

From the article – “Sometimes recognizing what’s best for the land community is difficult. Our management planning revealed the obvious course correction wasn’t limited by our tools so much as ourselves. More often than we’d like to admit it, probably in more arenas than we’d like to admit, our personal sensibilities, insecurities, and aesthetics heavily influence our thinking. Certainly, not everything in nature is intended to be beautiful to us or to abide by our rationale. Ecologists, of all people, know the importance of dynamic systems in nature, and yet directing such dramatic change as a major timber harvest exposed a threshold of emotions.”