Aldo Leopold was an early 20th-century American ecologist and environmental writer. He worked as a forester, a game-manager, and a professor, and is best known for his book, A Sand County Almanac, as well as for his innovative "land ethic."Leopold was born in Iowa in 1887, and inherited a love of nature from his mother. He attended Yale University, from which he received a master's degree in forestry. From there, he went on to work for the United States Forest Service.
Soon Leopold became interested in
Gifford Pinchot's conservation policy, which advocated the greatest good for the greatest number over the longest time. Leopold began to apply this idea in his work in forestry and to life in general. He abandoned his hunting hobby and became an advocate of forest preservation.
In 1935, Leopold was active in laying the foundation for the Wilderness
Society and began to write for the journal Living Wilderness. He was one of the originators of the set of ideas that would soon lead to the designation of vast quantities of American land as "wilderness."
Leopold was also one of the pioneers of wildlife management. This is shown in Game Management, a book he published in 1933. Here he developed general guidelines for wildlife management that combined "science and use." Leopold
also developed new concepts such as niche and carrying capacity. He later taught at the University of Wisconsin as the first game-management professor in the United States.
Leopold's most famous work is A Sand County Almanac, which has been called "the bible of the environmental movement". The book develops many radical environmental concepts in an effort to advance a new line of thinking and promote ecologically sound behavior. Two ideas explored are "biological
community" and "land ethic," the second of which became especially well known. Leopold saw this concept as an extension of many human ethical codes; it embodies ideas of community and interdependence, but broadens these to include the land and its living elements. Though initially accepted by only a minority of the American people, such ideas have continuously gained support since the book's publication in 1949.
Leopold preached his ideas outside of his writings as well. He was active in many conservation associations, and he taught his land ethic and ideas of management to his students. He also practiced his own principles on his land in southern Wisconsin until his death in 1948.
The works of Aldo Leopold