Researching the Benefits of and Threats to Wilderness

By Thomas Holmes
USDA Forest Service
December 14, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States

UNITED STATES — Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, federal land designated as wilderness has increased from approximately 9 million to 109 million acres. …Wilderness is a culturally constructed concept that evolves over time with changes in socioeconomic, technological, demographic, and political conditions. Societal transformations, including growth of minority and underserved populations along with greater calls for environmental justice, in combination with changes in climatic variables (e.g., temperature and precipitation) and natural disturbances (e.g., wildfires, droughts, and invasive species) are creating new challenges for wilderness management agencies. This report provides up-to-date knowledge on societal benefits and ecosystem service values provided by wilderness and associated wildlands while also suggesting research directions that can help policymakers better understand social values and tradeoffs inherent in the allocation of resources to support wilderness preservation and management.

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