Wilderness Ethic

A focus on Earth’s truly wild places. 

wilderness ethic
Sossusvlei, Nambia. Photo: Arlo Hemphill, I am Wilderness

I am Wilderness is about those increasingly rare & special places that remain largely untouched by human influence, where natural processes and wildlife communities continue to thrive as they did in ages past.

The I am Wilderness vision for the future of wild places on Earth is embodied in the following core values:


  • Conservation. The American president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt described conservation as equal parts protection and development.  We must not continuously consume without protecting resources for the future, and setting aside those places that are more valuable untouched.


  • Rewilding and Restoration.  Earth’s natural systems have been degraded by the expansion of modern human consumption and development. It is imperative to restore and expand disappearing wilderness.  This should be done both by restoration of vegetative communities and “rewilding”, the reintroduction of animal species or near proxies that have been lost to wilderness ecosystems.


  • Exploration.  Wilderness is the keeper of Earth’s remaining mysteries.  In order to protect something, we must first understand it.  Explorers are both pioneers and the banner wavers of wilderness advocacy.


  • Protected Areas.  Parks work.  They benefit local communities, visitors and wilderness alike. Setting aside natural areas into national and international parks, and other forms of protected areas is a critical tool for their long term persistence.


  • Awareness, Education & Inspiration.  People are a part of wilderness.  Whether you are a member of an indigenous tribe to the Amazon or a stock broker in New York City, wilderness matters to your life.  I am Wilderness supports the perpetuity of traditional wilderness cultures and encourages the reconnection of the urban mind with the wild world. I am Wilderness understands that people protect what they love.  And thhey love what they know. We all have a deep, unbreakable bond with wilderness. We just sometimes need to be reminded of it.


  • Wilderness Public Trusts.  As a step beyond insular protected areas, I am Wilderness calls for a global system of Wilderness Trusts. The model that the world has created with Antarctica, the Southern Ocean and the seabed of the high seas as a common heritage of all humankind should be expanded to protect the other last expanses of Earth wilderness.  Where such wilderness lies within national jurisdictions, a nation’s sovereignty should be transformed into a stewardship role supported politically and economically by the international community.  Wilderness the global High Seas water column should look similar to the current Antarctic framework, and include strictly protected zones of ecological importance.