You might know who Aldo Leopold is if you are an environmental science major, work with land conservation groups, or attend the University of Wisconsin. For those of you who are wondering what he is famous for, these Aldo Leopold quotes from his book, A Sand County Almanac, should shed some light!
Aldo Leopold had a lot to say about wilderness, conservation, and land ethic, and is now often called the ‘father of wildlife ecology.’
Leopold was born and raised in Iowa, where his love of the outdoors was evident from an early age. He was often playing outside where he would spend hours observing his surroundings and journaling his findings. This behavior likely set him up for success as a student at the Yale Forest School.
He graduated with his degree in 1909 and then sought out a career with the U.S. Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico, which had just recently been established. His love and respect for the land would lead him to have an established career as an author, philosopher, professor, and scientist with several areas of focus.
Keep reading through these Aldo Leopold quotes to learn about his impact on our wild spaces.
Don’t forget to also check out these nature quotes about reconnecting with mother earth.
Aldo Leopold quotes from A Sand County Almanac
1. “I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.” ― Aldo Leopold
2. “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” ― Aldo Leopold
3. “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.” ― Aldo Leopold
4. “All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
5. “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.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
6. “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, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
7. “Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow… creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.” ― Aldo Leopold
8. “The boundary between tame and wild exists only in the imperfections of the human mind.” ― Aldo Leopold
9. “Getting up too early is a vice habitual in horned owls, stars, geese, and freight trains. Some hunters acquire it from geese and some coffee pots from hunters.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
10. “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.” ― Aldo Leopold
11. “To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul―hope you like what you see.” ― Aldo Leopold
Aldo Leopold quotes about land ethic and doing the right thing
12. “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” ― Aldo Leopold
13. “Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
14. “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, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
15. “The modern dogma is comfort at any cost.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
16. “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” ― Aldo Leopold
17. “Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient.” ― Aldo Leopold
18. “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
19. “We face the question of whether a ‘higher standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free.” ― Aldo Leopold
Aldo Leopold quotes about conservation and education
20. “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.” ― Aldo Leopold
21. “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” ― Aldo Leopold
22. “Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
23. “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.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
24. “Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
25. “In our attempt to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
26. “Teach the student to see the land, understand what he sees and enjoy what he understands.” ― Aldo Leopold
27. “Our job is to sharpen our tools and make them cut the right way… The sole measure of our success is the effect which they have on the forest.” ― Aldo Leopold, ‘The River Of The Mother Of God’.
Aldo Leopold quotes about farming, hunting, and land
28. “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, A Sand County Almanac
29. “We shall never achieve harmony with the 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, Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold
30. “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… The land is one organism.” ― Aldo Leopold
31. “November is, for many reasons, the month for the axe.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
32. “Whoever owns land has thus assumed, whether he knows it or not, the divine functions of creating and destroying plants.” ― Aldo Leopold
33. “To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
34. “What avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?” ― Aldo Leopold
35. “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, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
36. “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
37. “If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good whether we understand it or not.” ― Aldo Leopold
Wise and thought-provoking Aldo Leopold environmentalist quotes
38. “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, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
39. “That the situation appears hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.” ― Aldo Leopold
40. “Nonconformity is the highest evolutionary attainment of social animals.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
41. “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: What good is it?” ― Aldo Leopold
42. “We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
43. “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River
44. “The good life of any river may depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive.” ― Aldo Leopold
45. “At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant.” ― Aldo Leopold
46. “We grieve only for what we know.” ― Aldo Leopold
47. “That the situation is hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
48. “Obligations have no meaning without conscience, and the problem we face is the extension of the social conscience from people to land.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
49. “I feel a deep sense of security in this single-mindedness of freight trains.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
50. “It must be poor life that achieves freedom from fear.” ― Aldo Leopold
What did you learn from these Aldo Leopold quotes?
Aldo Leopold was more than just an author and a professor at the University of Wisconsin. He founded an entire science subject, known as wildlife management. The goal of wildlife management is to stop the loss of ‘Earth’s biodiversity.’
This is a fancy way of saying that its purpose is to ensure humans do not kill off all the other species. That includes species of plants and animals. One of my favorite Aldo Leopold quotes is the one where he talks about people believing that their meat comes from a grocery store.
It is important to realize that while those animals may not be in the wild at this moment they need certain conditions and even plants to thrive. That is where wildlife management comes into play.
Like many other processes in life, the interactions among and between wildlife, habitats, and people need to be managed. The goal is to achieve predefined impacts that balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people, using science.
Wildlife management uses mathematics, chemistry, biology, ecology, climatology, and geography to gain the most comprehensive results. Many of these results are often not seen immediately, taking years or generations to witness.
All of Aldo Leopold’s children were so influenced by his passion for the wilderness and life around us, that they also become scientists, focused on plants and the environment, and professors who taught future generations to get out into the world and preserve it for the future.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Aldo Leopold quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comments section below.
August 9, 2021 7:00 AM EST