Symposium Examines Leopold’s Legacy

Aldo Leopold believed that nature has rights independent of people and that the fate of humanity is intimately linked with the health of the land. Those beliefs culminated in a classic piece of environmental literature, A Sand County Almanac, in which Leopold articulates a land ethic that has been a source of inspiration for stewards of the environment for generations. On April 3, F&ES celebrated the centennial of Leopold’s graduation from the Yale Forest School with a symposium that examined his critical contributions to environmental conservation. Natural scientists, environmental historians, Leopold biographers, environmentalists, philosophers and other luminaries discussed Leopold’s place in American environmental history; his contributions to philosophy, ethics and natural resource management; how the land ethic might be recast for an increasingly urban community and the global environmental and social challenges of this century; and what he might have said to this year’s F&ES graduates. To listen to audio recordings from the symposium, visit the conference website.

Above: Estella Leopold, right, Aldo’s daughter, and Clare Kazanski, Leopold’s great-granddaughter, shared some of their thoughts about Leopold. Estella recalled a morning at the “shack,” a getaway for the Leopold family in the Wisconsin wilderness, her father rising early to write: “I came down for coffee and he put his pencil down. He handed me some yellow papers with some handwriting on them and said, ‘Do you want to see my latest essay?’ And I said, ‘Oh, of course, Dad.’ And so he handed it to me, and I said, ‘Dad, can I type the first copy of this essay, this wonderful essay?’ He said, ‘Okay.’ I want to tell you, I am very proud to say that I was the first one to type those memorable words: ‘There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.’” (Photo Credit: Jeannine  Richards)

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