Wilderness Zoning: Applying an Adapted Biosphere Reserve Model to Wilderness Areas

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Lauren K. Ward
Gary T. Green


America’s wilderness areas represent pristine examples of untrammeled nature, invaluable biodiversity, and traditions of primitive outdoor recreation. These resources are vulnerable to mounting pressures, and as the human population continues to grow, anthropogenic impacts on wilderness areas continue to increase. Population growth, technology, and global climate change threaten to degrade wilderness quality. Traditional approaches to wilderness management, with their single directive approach, may be insufficient to protect against these threats (Carver, Tricker, & Landers, 2013; Cole & Hahn, 2006; Cole & Landres, 1996).

This paper offers a new approach to wilderness management based on the management of biosphere reserves. Research suggests zoned management may protect wilderness from degradation. Wilderness managers may consider applying this flexible zoning system, designating Core Zones, Scientific Research Zones, Cultural/Historical Zones, Recreation Zones, and Buffer Zones. A wilderness zoning policy could effectively protect wilderness from the challenges of anthropogenic change (Haas, Driver, Brown & Lucas, 1987).

Article Details

Outdoor Recreation/Resource Management