From Wilderness to WildCountry: the power of language in environmental campaigns in Australia
journal contributionposted on 09.09.2009, 13:24 by Jenny Pickerill
There is increasing recognition that environmental groups' evocations of 'wilderness' as a rallying call for the protection of large tracts of land ignores the complexity of Indigenous rights and knowledge, and is tantamount to ecological imperialism. This article explores the problems and power of language used by Australian environmental groups. Using the example of The Wilderness Society and The Australian Conservation Society it details two different ways that campaigners have sought to move forward: to adopt tenure-blind conservation measures, and by creating a bicultural organisation. Despite progress being made however, two key problems remain: indigenous consultation remains focused on northern Australia and is not necessarily supported or prioritised by those higher in the respective organisations, and although language may be changing the underlying premise of why a landscape is of enough value to protect has not altered - the bio-physical method still prevails.