Aldo Leopold

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Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 - April 21, 1948) was a United States environmentalist.


  • That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.

A Sand County Almanac (1949)

  • Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man, nor for us to reap from it the aesthetic harvest it is capable, under science, of contributing to culture.
    • Foreword, p. ix[1]
  • It is a matter of what a man thinks about while chopping, or while deciding what to chop.
  • There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
    • "February: Good Oak", p. 12[1]
  • The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the pieces.
  • A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
    • Unidentified chapter/page
  • The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.
    • Unidentified chapter/page
  • Once you learn to read the land, I have no fear of what you will do to it, or with it. And I know many pleasant things it will do to you.
    • Unidentified chapter/page
  • Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise.
    • Unidentified chapter/page
  • A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than that of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.
    • Unidentified chapter/page
  • Barring love and war, few enterprises are undertaken with such abandon, or by such diverse individuals, or with so paradoxical a mixture of appetite and altruism, as that group of avocations known as outdoor recreation. It is, by common consent, a good thing for people to get back to nature.
    • Unidentified chapter/page
  • Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers.
    • March, p18
  • What a dull world if we knew all [everything] about geese.
    • April, p20
  • Engineers did not discover insulation, they copied it from these old soldiers of the prairie war. [Bur Oak]
    • April, p27
  • He who owns a veteran Bur Oak owns more than a tree. He owns an historical library, and a reserved seat in the theatre of evolution. To the discerning eye, his farm is labeled with the badge and symbol of the prairie war.
    • April, p30
  • How like fish we are: ready, nay eager to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! Even so, I think there is some virtue in eagerness, whether its object prove true or false.
    • June, p39
  • The erasure of a human subspecies is largely painless -- to us -- if we know little enough about it. A dead Chinaman is of little import to us whose awareness of things Chinese is bounded by an occasional dish of chow mein. We grieve only for what we know. The erasure of Silphium from western Dane County is no cause for grief if one knows it only as a name in a botany book.
    • July, p48
  • We classify ourselves into vocations, each of which wields some particular tool, or sells it, or repairs it, or sharpens it, or dispenses advice on how to do so; by such division of labors we avoid responsibility for the misuse of any tool save our own. But there is one vocation--philosophy--which knows that all men, by what they think about and wish for, in effect wield all tools. It knows that men thus determine, by their manner of thinking and wishing, whether it is worthwhile to wield any.
    • November, p68
  • A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.
    • November, p68
  • The modern dogma is comfort at any cost.
    • November, p.71
  • The problem, then, is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as land, among whom education and culture have become almost synonymous with landlessness. This is the problem of conservation education.

Round River (1953)

  • The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.
    • Unidentified chapter/page


  • Leopold, Aldo (1949). Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1st edition, New York: Oxford Unversity Press.
  1. a b Leopold, Aldo [1949] (1977). A Sand County Almanac Illustrated, 152 pp., Tamarack Press. ISBN 0-915024-15-2.

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