The Serengeti plain of East Africa is one of the world’s great wild lands — teeming with lions, leopards and migrating wildebeest. But is it ecologically intact, a rare fragment of the earth unaltered by the hand of humanity? Or is it, as many researchers argue, a human-created landscape, nurtured by generations of Maasai cattle herders?

And should we care? In the Anthropocene, should conservation be about protecting iconic species, ecological intactness, nature’s resilience, or human custody of landscapes —whether in the Serengeti or other famed wild landscapes such as the rainforests of the Congo basin or the vast tundras of Siberia and Canada?

The National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom Program has expanded with the addition of 16 sites, including one at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia and another at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida.

The additional sites were announced Friday by Second Gentleman of the United States Douglas Emhoff and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. The new listings join nearly 700 other sites, programs, and facilities in the network that honor, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight. A recording of the event can be viewed via YouTube.

When Kawésqar national park was formed in the Chilean part of Patagonia in 2019, just one ranger was responsible for an expanse the size of Belgium. Its fjords, forests and Andean peaks are a precious wilderness – one of the few remaining ecosystems undamaged by human activity, alongside parts of the Amazon, the Sahara and eastern Siberia.

Chilean officials hope that Kawésqar will, one day, meet the high standards for protected areas laid out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and make it on to the organisation’s “green list”.

 © 2021 George Wright Society


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