Caught by the River reader, Chris MacFarlane suggests ‘A Sand County Almanac’ by Aldo Leopold for inclusion in our Nature Book Reader:
To me, A Sand County Almanac is a truly beautiful and mesmerising book which hooked me about 15 years ago whilst at university. I wondered how such a book could be recommended on a Conservation Biology module reading list. The forward begins:
“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot “.
In the first part (A Sand County Almanac), Leopold describes the range of characters which exist on and around his farm in Wisconsin whether they are trees, snows, insects, streams, birds, winds…… His knowledge of natural history and ecology is outstanding.
A Sand County Almanac was published in 1949, shortly after he died in a forest fire. He is remembered today as being one of the first conservationists operating from a bio-centric standpoint. He is highly sceptical of Progress, as the costs to organisms are often high. Later in the book, in an essay called The Land Ethic he lays out these views with great economy. It has this memorable quote:
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise”.