Title quote from T. Hardy's (1928) poem ‘Before life and after’.
‘As Earth's testimonies tell’: wilderness conservation in a changing world
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2004
Volume 7, Issue 10, pages 990–998, October 2004
How to Cite
Gillson, L. and Willis, K. J. (2004), ‘As Earth's testimonies tell’: wilderness conservation in a changing world. Ecology Letters, 7: 990–998. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2004.00658.x
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2004
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2004
- Editor, Mark W. Schwartz Manuscript received 6 April 2004 First decision made 1 June 2004 Second decision made 16 July 2004 Manuscript accepted 21 July 2004
- climate change;
- dynamic ecosystems;
- restoration ecology;
Too often, wilderness conservation ignores a temporal perspective greater than the past 50 years, yet a long-term perspective (centuries to millennia) reveals the dynamic nature of many ecosystems. Analysis of fossil pollen, charcoal and stable isotopes, combined with historical analyses and archaeology can reveal how ongoing interactions between climatic change, human activities and other disturbances have shaped today's landscapes over thousands of years. This interdisciplinary approach can inform wilderness conservation and also contribute to interpreting current trends and predicting how ecosystems might respond to future climate change. In this paper, we review literature that reveals how increasing collaboration among palaeoecologists, archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and ecologists is improving understanding of ecological complexity. Drawing on case studies from forested and non-forested ecosystems in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australia, we discuss how this integrated approach can inform wilderness conservation and ecosystem management.