Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2020


This paper questions whether the rescaling of conservation practice in Canada to include local and Indigenous communities, NGOs, and private market-based actors represents a move away from wilderness-thinking in conservation, and what implications this might have for the future of conservation in Canada. We explore the links between Cronon's “wilderness” ethic and coloniality, racism/sexism/classism, and political economy, and the extent to which recent trends in conservation practice, such as co-management arrangements, private tourism proposals, and a shift in programming to attract a diverse public to parks, help us to move beyond the limited vision for conservation and environmentalism that the wilderness ethic provides. We interrogate the ways in which the concept of wilderness is being employed, resisted, and transformed by a multitude of actors in three parks and conservation areas across Canada. We argue that although recent developments in conservation practice help to redress some of the worrisome aspects of wilderness-thinking in parks, they also reinforce and re-emphasize problematic lines of thinking and praxis. While the wilderness character of Canadian parks has shifted a great deal since the turn of the 20th century, the wilderness ethic remains deeply embedded within conservation discourse and practice.

Copyright Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Youdelis, M., Nakoochee, R., O’Neil, C., Lunstrum, E. & Roth, R. "Wilderness" Revisited: Is Canadian Park Management Moving Beyond the "Wilderness" Ethic? The Canadian Geographer 64(2), 232-249,

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