Aldo Leopold quotes

  • Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Hands #Land #Environmental

  • There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Wild Things

  • Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants and animals.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Animal #Garden #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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Inspiring #Nature #Ocean

  • To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Travel #Imagination

  • 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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Beauty #Nature #Integrity

  • 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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Spiritual #Two #Breakfast

  • Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Long #Mountain #Enough

  • We face the question whether a still higher "standard of living" is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Cost #Faces #Prosperity

  • We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Mean #Eye #Hunting

  • 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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Respect #Land #Community

  • Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Self #Land #Renewal

  • Nonconformity is the highest evolutionary attainment of social animals.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Animal #Social #Attainment

  • 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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #No Fear #Have No Fear

  • The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: 'What good is it?
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Ignorance #Animal

  • When some remote ancestor of ours invented the shovel, he became a giver: He could plant a tree. And when the axe was invented, he became a taker: He could chop it down. Whoever owns land has thus assumed, whether he knows it or not, the divine functions of creating and destroying plants.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #Creating #Tree

  • Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Civilization #Raw Materials

  • A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish. It is a continuum broken only by humans.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Rivers #Broken #Sun

  • He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowing. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Spring #Eye #Despair

  • Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow... the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Impossible #Wilderness #Creation

  • That the situation appears hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Hopeless #Should #Situation

  • Tell me of what plant-birthday a man takes notice, and I shall tell you a good deal about his vocation, his hobbies, his hay fever, and the general level of his ecological education.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Hobbies #Hay

  • Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Garden #Needs #Poet

  • There is value in any experience that exercises those ethical restraints collectively called sportsmanship.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Exercise #Hunting #Sportsmanship

  • I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Environmental #Wilderness

  • We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Land #Justice

  • The good life of any river may depend on the perception of its music; and the preservation of some music to perceive.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Good Life #Rivers #Perception

  • On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Sky #Wings #New Day

  • 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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Ignorance #Intelligent #Men

  • One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Summer #Spring #Doe

  • In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Anniversary #Nature #Spring

  • 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.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #People #Culture

  • There are some of us who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.  For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese or wild flowers is a right as inalienable as free speech.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Flower #Opportunity #Minorities

  • Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Country #Men #Pioneers

  • My favorite quote: The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land... In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Animal #Land #Water

  • Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Men #Land

  • Then came the gadgeteer, otherwise known as the sporting-goods dealer. He has draped the American outdoorsman with an infinity of contraptions, all offered as aids to self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, or marksmanship, but too often functioning as substitutes for them. Gadgets fill the pockets, they dangle from neck and belt. The overflow fills the auto-trunk and also the trailer. Each item of outdoor equipment grows lighter and often better, but the aggregate poundage becomes tonnage.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Self #Pockets #Gadgets

  • Our tools are better than we are, and grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides, but they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history, to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #Atoms #Tasks

  • Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Behavior #Ethical #Doing The Right Thing

  • There can be no doubt that a society rooted in the soil is more stable than one rooted in pavements.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Doubt #Pavement #Soil

  • The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #Tasks #Pieces

  • The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Lying #Wilderness #Values

  • No matter how intently one studies the hundred little dramas of the woods and meadows, one can never learn all the salient facts about any one of them.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Drama #Littles

  • Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Civilization #Support

  • The practice of conservation must spring from a conviction of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right only when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the community, and the community includes the soil, waters, fauna, and flora, as well as people.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Integrity #Spring #Practice

  • Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Beautiful #Art #Nature

  • The life of every river sings its own song, but in most the song is long marred by the discords of misuse.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Song #Rivers #Long

  • Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Hate #Games

  • One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Believe #Doctors #Land

  • Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree - and there will be one.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Tree #May #Example

  • There is, as yet, no sense of pride in the husbandry of wild plants and animals, no sense of shame in the proprietorship of a sick landscape. We tilt windmills in behalf of conservation in convention halls and editorial offices, but on the back forty we disclaim even owning a lance.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Pride #Animal #Land

  • Bread and beauty grow best together. Their harmonious integration can make farming not only a business but an art; the land not only a food-factory but an instrument for self-expression, on which each can play music to his own choosing.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Art #Self #Expression

  • Our children are our signature to the roster of history; our land is merely the place our money was made. There is as yet no social stigma in the possession of a gullied farm, a wrecked forest, or a polluted stream, provided the dividends suffice to send the youngsters to college. Whatever ails the land, the government will fix it.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Children #College #Government

  • The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Discovery #Land #Television

  • The most important characteristic of an organism is that capacity for internal self-renewal known as health. There are two organisms whose processes of self-renewal have been subjected to human interference and control. One of these is man himself (medicine and public health). The other is land (agriculture and coservation). The effort to control the health of land has not been very successful.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Successful #Men #Self

  • O, God assist our side: at least, avoid assisting the enemy and leave the rest to me
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #War #Enemy #Sides

  • Time was when education moved toward soil, not away from it.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #Soil #Moved

  • Conservation is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Exercise #Skills #Negative

  • Every farm woodland, in addition to yielding lumber, fuel and posts, should provide its owner a liberal education. This crop of wisdom never fails, but it is not always harvested.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Fuel #Failing

  • I know a painting so evanescent that it is seldom viewed at all except by some wandering deer. It is a river who wields the brush and it is the same river who before I can bring my friends to view his work erases it forever from human view. After that it exists only in my mind's eye.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Eye #Views #Rivers

  • We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Land #Abuse #Commodity

  • Conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Conservation #Interest

  • 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! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook!
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Hunting #Wind #Fishing

  • What a dull world if we knew all about geese!
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #World #Dull #Geese

  • Conservation viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #New Relationship #Land #People

  • Your woodlot is, in fact, an historical document which faithfully records your personal philosophy.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Philosophy #Historical #Records

  • Mechanized recreation already has seized nine-tenths of the woods and mountains; a decent respect for minorities should dedicate the other tenth to wilderness.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Mountain #Minorities #Woods

  • Hemispheric solidarity is new among statesmen, but not among the feathered navies of the sky.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Sky #Navy #Solidarity

  • One of the anomalies of modern ecology is the creation of two groups, each of which seems barely aware of the existence of the other. The one studies the human community, almost as if it were a separate entity, and calls its findings sociology, economics and history. The other studies the plant and animal community and comfortably relegates the hodge-podge of politics to the liberal arts. The inevitable fusion of these two lines of thought will, perhaps, constitute the outstanding advance of this century.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Art #Animal #Two

  • There is yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus' slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Girl #Growing Up #Animal

  • It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Philosophical #Mean #Land

  • For us in the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Nature #Opportunity #Important

  • Too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run,
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Running #Yield #Long

  • Relegating conservation to government is like relegating virtue to the Sabbath. Turns over to professionals what should be daily work of amateurs .
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Government #Virtue #Conservation

  • How would you like to have a thousand brilliantly colored cliff swallows keeping house in the eaves of your barn, and gobbling up insects over your farm at the rate of 100,000 per day? There are many Wisconsin farmsteads where such a swallow-show is a distinct possibility.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #House #Over You #Barns

  • The whole conflict thus boils down to a question of degree. We of the minority see a law of diminishing returns in progress; our opponents do not.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Law #Progress #Degrees

  • Sometimes in June, when I see unearned dividends of dew hung on every lupine, I have doubts about the real poverty of the sands. On solvent farmlands lupines do not even grow, much less collect a daily rainbow of jewels.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Real #June #Jewels

  • 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. But wherein lies the goodness, and what can be done to encourage its pursuit?
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #War #Lying #People

  • Only the most uncritical minds are free from doubt.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Doubt #Mind

  • The only true development in American recreational resources is the development of the perceptive faculty in Americans. All of the other acts we grace by that name are, at best, attempts to ***** or mask the process of dilution.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Names #Grace #Development

  • All history consists of successive excursions from a single starting-point, to which man returns again and again to organize yet another search for a durable scale of values.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Return #Starting

  • The landscape of any farm is the owner's portrait of himself.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Portraits #Landscape #Owners

  • There are degrees and kinds of solitude. ... I know of no solitude so secure as one guarded by a spring flood; nor do the geese, who have seen more kinds and degrees of aloneness than I have.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Spring #Solitude #Degrees

  • Like all real treasures of the mind, perception can be split into infinitely small fractions without losing its quality. The weeds in a city lot convey the same lesson as the redwoods; the farmer may see in his cow-pasture what may not be vouchsafed to the scientist adventuring in the South Seas.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Weed #Real #Sea

  • In that year [1865] John Muir offered to buy from his brother ... a sanctuary for the wildflowers that had gladdened his youth. His brother declined to part with the land, but he could not suppress the idea: 1865 still stands in Wisconsin history as the birth-year of mercy for things natural, wild, and free.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Brother #Years #Land

  • In farm country, the plover has only two real enemies: the gully and the drainage ditch. Perhaps we shall one day find that these are our enemies, too.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Country #Real #Two

  • 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
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Impact #Land

  • Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Art #Quality #Ability

  • It is part of wisdom never to revisit a wilderness, for the more golden the lily, the more certain that someone has gilded it
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Lilies #Golden #Wilderness

  • All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.... That man is, in fact, only a member of a biotic team is shown by an ecological interpretation of history. Many historical events, hitherto explained solely in terms of human enterprise, were actually biotic interactions between people and land.... Is history taught in this spirit? it will be, once the concept of land as a community really penetrates our intellectual life.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Team #Men #Land

  • Every region should retain representative samples of its original or wilderness condition, to serve science as a sample of normality. Just as doctors must study healthy people to understand disease, so must the land sciences study the wilderness to understand disorders of the land-mechanism.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Doctors #Land #People

  • Ideas, like men, can become dictators. We Americans have so far escaped regimentation by our rulers, but have we escaped regimentation by our own ideas? I doubt if there exists today a more complete regimentation of the human mind than that accomplished by our self-imposed doctrine of ruthless utilitarianism.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Self #Ideas

  • A profession is a body of men who voluntarily measure their work by a higher standard than their clients demand. To be professionally acceptable, a policy must be sound as well as salable. Wildlife administration, in this respect, is not yet a profession.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Body #Demand

  • No farmer-sportsman group is stronger than the ties of mutual confidence and enthusiasm which bind its members.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Ties #Stronger #Enthusiasm

  • Only economists mistake physical opulence for riches.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Mistake #Riches #Opulence

  • If we lose our wilderness , we have nothing left, in my opinion, worth fighting for; or to be more exact, a completely industrialized United States is of no consequence to me.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Fighting #United States #Opinion

  • Man brings all things to the test of himself, and this is notably true of lightning.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Men #Lightning #Tests

  • An oak is no respecter of persons.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Persons

  • The drama of the sky dance is enacted nightly on hundreds of farms, the owners of which sigh for entertainment, but harbor the illusion that it is to be sought in theaters. They live on the land, but not by the land.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Drama #Sky #Land

  • Whoever invented the word 'grace' must have seen the wing-folding of the plover.
    -- Aldo Leopold

    #Wings #Grace #Folding