Introduction A sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold can be seen as one of the most influential and controversial books on environmentalism and ecological views of its time
A sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold can be seen as one of the most influential and controversial books on environmentalism and ecological views of its time, as well as in todays society. The book is a large description of Leopold’s life experiences as well as his personal education of the ecosystems around the world as well as in his own backyard of Wisconsin. The book is broken down into three different segments; Part one labeled A Sand County Almanac covers the basic aspects of life around his restorative farm project in Wisconsin. Leopold broke this large part into twelve different sections with each chapter revolving around a month of the year. Each of these chapters give a detailed overview of the plants and animals present during each month including the importance they have on the food chain.
The second part of the book Sketches Here and There is based on Leopold’s personal experiences he had around North America while he worked as an advocate for conservation. In this section he goes into the fact that conservation will only work if there is enough people who care about the world to save it other then destroy it for there own personal agenda or gain. Leopold then goes to explain that through his own experiences while traveling, there are only two types of conservation within humanity. Those who try to conserve the world only for there own economic gain and those who try to conserve these natural systems for the intrinsic value of the system and plants and animals that live within them.
The third section named The Upshot is based on the philological and scientific aspects of ecology. This section is a make up of journals and writings, which are based around Leopold philosophy of conservationism, which is the political, environmental and social ideas that strive to protect and preserve natural resources while being responsible for the use of these natural systems. Here Leopold then leaves the negativity’s of human based environmental degradation that is happening around the world and instead begins to address thoughts or ideas that may help reverse these negative effects.
Ecological and agroecological content
When addressing the aspects of ecological and aroegological content within this book part one talks about the importance of every animal and plant within the food chain. Including the negative effects that can happen when they are removed from these systems. Leopold first starts the book of by talking about the month January that in most cases is still considered winter within North America. Leopold shows that even though most individuals believe this month to be dead or non-alive that it is anything but that, there are still many animals and plants that are awoke during these months. Leopold then goes to talk about the many woodland creatures that are stirring during these months; Such as owls, which prey upon many of the small invertebrates that are trying to survive the harsh winter, like rats and mice. He then explains that if we irradiate these small mammals then the owl will suffer but not only that but the soil will suffer. During these winter months many of these small animals seek shelter within the soil allowing aeration for roots and allowing increased infiltration rates, which help many plants to access the thawing winters water during the early spring. If these key species are removed many problems will occur so that’s why Leopold would rather work with nature then against it.
In the second section it also covers a wide variety of ecological aspects that where discussed in class such as the damage declining natural habitats have on the environment as well as the life within these systems, the consequences over hunting may have on the environment and the problems that arise from the excess of invasive plants which have been brought along with humans through out the centuries. In relation to the decline of natural habitats Leopold goes on to talk about different tactics that he attempt to decrease the decline of natural habitats on his own land, such as the popular quote from him “on our farm we measure the amplitude of our spring by two yardsticks: the number of pines planted and the number of geese that stop.”(Leopold). In this quote he clearly means that instead of degrading these natural land he instead begins building it up providing natural habitat for the plants and animals within. In relation to the consequences of over hunting Leopold best answer for this is to do it responsibly he understands that people will still hunt either in order to feed themselves or as sport but he says that in order for species to survive we must do so continuously. This means to not hunt out of season and to only hunt species that have an ample amount of adults to repopulate what was taken the previous year. The third major aspect within this section is the invasive plant problem. This is an obvious problem and can be seen through out the world and for Leopold the most sustainable answer for this is to introduce invasive and instead only bring in natural plants into the habitat. Do not bring in invasive for only esthetic beauty when there is already an ample amount of natural beauty all around. Leopold does not give us a straight answer on how to fix areas that have been invaded by invasive species but instead he leads his reader to know that once and ecosystem has been affected it may be permanently diminished even though it might survive.
All in all I believe this book to be a great read. It opened my eyes to many aspects of conservationism as well as the problems that arise within our own societies view todays. If people keep going on like this it will inevitably lead to our own demise and that is not how id like for it to happen. People have to begin to cherish and respect the land that they live as well as the land that they work. If we do not find a way to make natural lands more profitable I feel that it will then lead to more degradation and desertification of these natural lands. I would definitely recommend this book to many people including my conservative family to show them that even though these natural land may not be bringing in income they are just as important or even more important then land used for economic gain.
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