This book examines the concept of naturalness in ecosystems, discusses its values and considers choices about the level of naturalness in conservation efforts. The author argues that all ecosystems have been modified and the idea of places 'untouched by humans' is a myth. But there are large differences in the degree of modification and levels of naturalness which can be identified. Changes are not always irreversible; some apparent wilderness areas are sites of former civilizations. There is no longer any simple distinction possible between 'natural' and 'cultural' systems. In the future, society will, to some extent, choose the degree of naturalness in land and seascapes. The growth of protected areas is an early sign of this, as are changes in forest management, dam removal and control of invasive species. To make informed choices about these areas, the author shows that we must understand the characteristics and values of naturally regulating ecosystems – their practical benefits, social values and management needs.
Authenticity in Nature uses a rigorous definition of authenticity to help in the understanding and measurement of naturalness. It discusses the choices facing us and some of the information we need to make decisions relating to land and water management. Practical issues of management and numerous terrestrial and aquatic examples from around the world are discussed. It is an optimistic and highly original book, aiming to make genuine advances in our understanding and management of natural systems.
"Dudley’s book is … similar to Simon Levin’s Fragile Dominion (1999), E. O. Wilson’s The Future of Life (2002) or Carolyn Merchant’s Reinventing Eden (2003). An established environmental scientist, Dudley also uses his travels to bring colour to his writing, but his hypothesis comes from a thoughtful examination of various attempts to define ‘natural’ and ‘wild’ — by scientists, philosophers, managers, non-governmental organizations and policy-makers. Dudley demonstrates that there is neither coherence nor consensus as to what constitutes naturalness or wildness. He suggests that we focus instead on "authenticity". - Shahid Naeem, Professor of Ecology, Columbia University, USA, in Nature (1 September 2011).
Preface. Introduction 1. The Myths of Wilderness, Myth 1: Natural Ecosystems Still Exist 2. The Myths of Wilderness, Myth 2: Naturalness is Irrelevant 3. How our Attitudes to Natural Ecosystems Change with Time and Place 4. Defining Naturalness and Authenticity 5. Authenticity, Ethics and Conservation Targets 6. The Things We Get from Natural Ecosystems 7. Global Attempts to Assess Naturalness 8. Managing for Authenticity 9. Into the Future 10. A Manifesto for Authenticity. References