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Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an Americanmarker ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. He was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation. Leopold is considered to be the father of wildlife management in the United States and was a life-long fisherman and hunter. Leopold died in 1948 from a heart attack two hours after fighting a brush fire on a neighbor's farm.

Life and work

In 1933 he was appointed Professor of Game Management in the Agricultural Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker. He lived in a modest two-story home close to the campus with his wife and children, and he taught at the university until his death. Today, his home is an official landmark of the city of Madison. One of his sons, Luna, went on to become a noted hydrologist and geology professor at UC Berkeley. Another son, A. Starker Leopold, was a noted wildlife biologist and also a professor at UC Berkeley.

His nature writing is notable for its simple directness. His portrayals of various natural environments through which he had moved, or had known for many years, displayed impressive intimacy with what exists and happens in nature. Leopold offered frank criticism of the harm he believed was frequently done to natural systems (such as land) out of a sense of a culture or society's sovereign ownership over the land base – eclipsing any sense of a community of life to which humans belong. He felt the security and prosperity resulting from "mechanization" now gives people the time to reflect on the preciousness of nature and to learn more about what happens there. However, he also writes "Theoretically, the mechanization of farming ought to cut the farmer's chains, but whether it really does is debatable."

A Sand County Almanac

The book was published in 1949, shortly after Leopold's death. One of the well-known quotes from the book which clarifies his land ethic is
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

The concept of a trophic cascade is put forth in the chapter "Thinking Like a Mountain", wherein Leopold realizes that killing a predator wolf carries serious implications for the rest of the ecosystem.


In "The Land Ethic", a chapter of A Sand County Almanac, Leopold delves into conservation in "The Ecological Conscience" section. He wrote: "Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land." According to him, curriculum-content guidelines in the late 1940s, when he wrote boiled down to: "obey the law, vote right, join some organizations and practice what conservation is profitable on your own land; the government will do the rest."(p.243-244)


Currently the Digital Content Group of University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker is conducting a large-scale digitization of Aldo Leopold's journals and records. They are expected to be made available online late 2009.

See also


  1. Errington, P.L. (1948) In Appreciation of Aldo Leopold. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 12(4) pp. 341-350
  2. Raitt, RJ (1984) In Memoriam: A. Starker Leopold. Auk 101: 868-871. PDF
  3. Leopold, A. (1949) A Sand County Almanac (Ballantine Books ed., 1970)(p. 262)
  4. Leopold, Aldo Thinking Like a Mountain


  • Knight, Richard L. and Suzanne Riedel (ed). 2002. Aldo Leopold and the Ecological Conscience. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195149440.
  • Lorbiecki, Marybeth. 1996. Aldo Leopold: A Fierce Green Fire. Helena, Mont.: Falcon Press. ISBN 1560444789.
  • McClintock, James I. 1994. Nature's Kindred Spirits. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0299141748.
  • Meine, Curt. 1988. Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0299114902.
  • Newton, Julianne Lutz. 2006. Aldo Leopold's Odyssey. Washington: Island Press/Shearwater Books. ISBN 9781597260459.

External links

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