Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold ( born January 11, 1887 in Burlington, Iowa, USA, † April 21, 1948 in Baraboo, Wisconsin, United States) was an American forester, wildlife biologist, hunter and environmentalist. He is considered one of the founders of the conservation movement. The author of several nonfiction was a prize winner of the Burroughs Medal.


Aldo Leopold began in 1905 at the recently founded Faculty of Forestry at Yale University to study. Here his German ancestors benefited him, because for the forestry study German language skills were mandatory. This was justified by the fact that here the German (Central European ) concept of sustainability in forestry was taught. When he finished studying, he belonged to the first generation of American foresters.

His first major field of activity was the development of a forest management for the area between the Rio Grande, the Colorado River and the Mexican border, a wild landscape with forest areas that were first surveyed and mapped at this time. Here he met his future wife, a young teacher, Estella Bergere, which he, although Lutheran, married in the Catholic Cathedral of Santa Fe.

In 1915 he received the order from Washington to explore the reasons for the decline in wildlife populations within its territory. Hence, his attention turned to the Wildlife Biology. So he examined the relationships of overgrazing, soil erosion, disturbance of the water balance and the behavior of fauna, from which he derived a concept which envisaged to establish a network of game reserves, and the whole Grand Canyon of the existing small-scale National Monuments addition, under conservation to provide. Both concepts have been implemented: The National Wildlife Refuges and the Grand Canyon National Park.

Then he sat down with the aspect of biology apart, which examines the lives of animals and plants in relation to their habitat, ecology. First, he took a strictly utilitarian position and called for the extermination of the wolf and cougar, to promote viewed by him as a desirable population of deer. The number of deer per unit area, he was the measure of the natural integrity of an area. In the following years he qualified this position in 1933, he rejected the extermination of predators off because he had recognized the importance of tracking pressure on the prey population. In the 1940s, he measured the environmental quality of an area on the wolf population. The trigger for the change in his views in particular, a 1922 book published in English by the Russian writer and PD Ouspensky esotericist ( 1878-1947 ) is cited, who represented an early version of the " Gaia hypothesis ": "The earth is a coordinated whole, a self-regulating organism, a living being. "

As early as 1923, he formulated an ethic of sustainability due to its experience. He began to work in the Midwest with this knowledge at a research institute of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Here he became a recognized wildlife biologists. Through his friendship with the British naturalist Charles Elton, synergies, which coined the term ecosystem profoundly revealed.

In the Great Plains occurred in the 1930s, the biggest drought on the well-known climate history of the United States. As countermeasures afforestation were carried out on a large scale, but a change of thinking patterns ( paradigms ) that have led to the crisis, did not take place. In the summer of 1935 Leopold embarked on a study trip to Germany after to collect there suggestions for sustainable forestry in America. In the Forestry Faculty of the Technical University of Dresden, the delegation was received. Aldo Leopold recognized in the country of his ancestors, the efforts for conservation with the continuous forest, but the rigid split and geometrically designed beats (area timbered ) showed a use of forests as " wood factories." It was scheduled for a visit to Good Neschwitz in Upper Lusatia. The squire Arnold Freiherr von Vietinghoff Riesch (1895-1962), a representative of the permanent forest idea, pursued his forestry with single root extraction and natural regeneration. Aldo Leopold was thrilled.

After returning to the U.S., he tried out his collected ideas. An abandoned farm along the Wisconsin River, the bottom blazes nothing more was his testing ground. He started the successful restoration of the entire site. Today there are to see a variety of forest images. These observations of nature Leopold wrote down at work and supplemented them with his extensive experience. From this transcript of the Sand County Almanac, which appeared a year after the author's death 1949, ( German, shortened in 1992: In the beginning the earth was ).


"Our job is to harmonize the Increasing kit of scientific tools and the Increasing recklessness in using them with the shrinking biotas to Which They Are Applied. In the nature of things we are mediators and moderators, and Unless we can help rewrite the objectives of science we are predestined to failure "

"Our task is to harmonize the ever growing modular scientific instruments and the ever dividend will ruthlessness of his application with the shrinking biodiversity. In the nature of things it is that we are mediators and moderators; while we can not rewrite the goals of science, we are doomed to fail "

Today, Aldo Leopold is recognized worldwide as a pioneer of ecological thinking. Because of its varied activity in the field of biology, ecology and wildlife biologist, he is considered the founder of wildlife management.

With the top land ethics, which forms the conclusion of the Sand County Almanac, Leopold is also the founder of environmental ethics. He developed the ethics to be founded in the relations between individuals and later extended to the position of the individual in society. " The land ethic simply expands the boundaries of the community and includes soils.. Waters, plants and animals, that - combined - the country, a "being ethical principle in dealing with the country says: " An action is right if it helps to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of nature. It is wrong when it does the opposite. "

His commitment to the preservation of wilderness as largely uninfluenced by human natural area led in 1924 to the expulsion of the first Widnisschutzgebietes in the United States, the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. His writings were influential in introducing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which created a system of fully protected Wilderness Areas.

His son Aldo Leopold Strong (1913-1983) was also a well-known wildlife ecologist. His son Luna Bergere Leopold was committed to the concept of sustainability as a hydrologist and geologist.

Works (selection)

  • Report on a game survey of the north central states. Made by Aldo Leopold for the Sporting Arms and ammunition manufacturers ' institute under direction of its Committee on restoration and protection of game, etc., Madison 1931
  • Game management, New York 1933
  • Thinking like a mountain, 1944 (Eng. Thinking Like a Mountain ) - Essay

Much of his writings was published posthumously in anthologies in book form:

  • A Sand County almanac, and Sketches here and there, New York, 1949 (Eng. At first plea for environmental ethics, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-926901-54-3 was the Earth. )
  • Round River. From the Journals of Aldo Leopold, New York 1953 - edited by Luna B. Leopold
  • A Sand County almanac. With other essays on conservation from Round River, New York 1966
  • Aldo Leopold's wilderness. Selected early writings by the author of " A sand county almanac ", Harrisburg, 1990, ISBN 0-8117-1864-6 - edited by David E. Brown and Neil B. Carmony.
  • The river of the mother of God and other essays, Madison, 1991, ISBN 0-299-12760-5 - edited by Susan L. wavy grain and J. Baird Callicott
  • Aldo Leopold 's Southwest, Albuquerque, 1995, ISBN 0-8263-1580-1 - edited by David E. Brown and Neil B. Carmony
  • For the health of the land. Previously unpublished essays and other writings, Washington, DC 1999, ISBN 1-55963-763-3 - edited by J. Baird Callicott and Eric T. Freyfogle