Naturalness and Biodiversity: Why Natural Conditions Should Be Maintained Within Protected Areas

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

William and Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review





Publication Date

Fall 9-1-2012

First Page


Last Page



In this Article, I will argue that naturalness (natural conditions) should be maintained as a mandatory goal in the management of protected areas. It will be important to describe in detail what naturalness as a management goal consists of. Within Beyond Naturalness, Cole, Yung, and other authors misrepresent the naturalness mandated within protected area law and policy. I wish to defend the claim that naturalness, properly understood, is necessary for the preservation of native biodiversity. I will describe an interesting case study in which managers have intervened in wilderness to conserve "what we value" without respect for natural conditions, and native amphibians have been threatened as a result. Indeed, examples of management intervention in protected areas that supposedly show, according to Cole and others, the need to go beyond naturalness actually demonstrate the necessity of maintaining natural conditions. Naturalness should be considered an essential, broad goal under which managers can manage most effectively in the face of acid rain, exotic speices, climate change, and other human-caused stresses. According to National Park Service and other federal agency policies, flexibility is allowed in special circumstances. Naturalness is not imposed in an inflexible fashion. But naturalness should remain a mandatory goal iln protected area management for very good ecological and, this Article argues, social reasons

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