96+ Best Aldo Leopold Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Aldo Leopold was an American author, philosopher, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac, which has sold more than two million copies. Profoundly inspirational Aldo Leopold quotes will make you look at life differently and help you live a meaningful life.

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Famous Aldo Leopold Quotes

A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of his land. – Aldo Leopold

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization. Wilderness was never a homogenous raw material. It was very diverse. The differences in the product are known as cultures. The rich diversity of the worlds cultures reflects a corresponding diversity. In the wilds that gave them birth. – Aldo Leopold

The landscape of any farm is the owner’s portrait of himself. – Aldo Leopold

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

We realize the indivisibility of the earth – its soil, mountains, rivers, forests, climate, plants, and animals – and respect it collectively not only as a useful servant but as a living being, vastly less alive than ourselves in degree, but vastly greater than ourselves in time and space – a being that was old when the morning stars sang together, and when the last of us has been gathered unto his fathers, will still be young. – Aldo Leopold

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

The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on…. A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind. – Aldo Leopold

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

High horns, low horns, silence, and finally a pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks, and cries that almost shakes the bog with its nearness. A new day has begun on the crane marsh. A sense of time lies thick and heavy on such a place … 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

Too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. – Aldo Leopold

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

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. – Aldo Leopold

We stand guard over works of art, but species representing the work of aeons are stolen from under our noses – Aldo Leopold

An oak is no respecter of persons. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

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 land ethic reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity. – Aldo Leopold

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

No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions. – Aldo Leopold

When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may see it with love and respect. – Perhaps such a shift of values can be achieved by reappraising things unnatural, tame, and confined in terms of things natural, wild, and free. – Aldo Leopold

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

A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

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

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

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

To any one for whom wild things are something more than a pleasant diversion, (conservation) constitutes one of the milestones in moral evolution. – Aldo Leopold

Perhaps our grandsons, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. – Aldo Leopold

An Ecologist lives in a world of wounds. – Aldo Leopold

This song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all. On a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over rimrocks, sit quietly and listen, and think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand. Then you may hear it – a vast pulsing harmony – its score inscribed on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries. – Aldo Leopold

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 retard or mask the process of dilution. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

When I call to mind my earliest impressions, I wonder whether the process ordinarily referred to as growing up is not actually a process of growing down; whether experience, so much touted among adults as the thing children lack, is not actually a progressive dilution of the essentials by the trivialities of living. – Aldo Leopold

In country, as in people, a plain exterior often conceals hidden riches, to perceive which requires much living in and with. – Aldo Leopold

The rich diversity of the world’s cultures reflects a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth. – Aldo Leopold

Never did we plan the morrow, for we had learned that in the wilderness some new and irresistible distraction is sure to turn up each day before breakfast. Like the river, we were free to wander. – Aldo Leopold

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

Whoever invented the word ‘grace’ must have seen the wing-folding of the plover. – Aldo Leopold

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

Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm. – Aldo Leopold

What avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map? – Aldo Leopold

Twenty centuries of ‘progress’ have brought the average citizen a vote, a national anthem, a Ford, a bank account, and a high opinion of himself, but not the capacity to live in high density without befouling and denuding his environment, nor a conviction that such capacity, rather than such density, is the true test of whether he is civilized. – Aldo Leopold

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

There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

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

The hope of the future lies not in curbing the influence of human occupancy – it is already too late for that – but in creating a better understanding of the extent of that influence and a new ethic for its governance. – Aldo Leopold

I shall now confess to you that none of those three trout had to be beheaded, or folded double, to fit their casket. What was big was not the trout, but the chance. What was full was not my creel, but my memory. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

The real jewel of my disease-ridden woodlot is the prothonotary warbler. The flash of his gold-and-blue plumage amid the dank decay of the June woods is in itself proof that dead trees are transmuted into living animals, and vice versa. – Aldo Leopold

Prudence never kindled a fire in the human mind; I have no hope for conservation born of fear. – Aldo Leopold

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

If education really educates, there will, in time, be more and more citizens who understand that relics of the old West add meaning and value to the new. Youth yet unborn will pole up the Missouri with Lewis and Clark, or climb the Sierras with James Capen Adams, and each generation in turn will ask: Where is the big white bear? It will be a sorry answer to say he went under while conservationists weren’t looking. – Aldo Leopold

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

It is, by common consent, a good thing for people to get back to nature. – Aldo Leopold

To those who know the speech of hills and rivers straightening a stream is like shipping vagrants a very successful method of passing trouble from one place to the next. It solves nothing in any collective sense. – Aldo Leopold

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

To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. – Aldo Leopold

For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

Science contributes moral as well as material blessings to the world. Its great moral contribution is objectivity, or the scientific point of view. This means doubting everything except facts; it means hewing to the facts, let the chips fall where they may. – Aldo Leopold

He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance. – Aldo Leopold

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

To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul – hope you like what you see. – Aldo Leopold

Our grandfathers were less well-housed, well-fed, well-clothed than we are. The strivings by which they bettered their lot are also those which deprived us of [Passenger] pigeons. Perhaps we now grieve because we are not sure, in our hearts, that we have gained by the exchange. The gadgets of industry bring us more comforts than the pigeons did, but do they add as much to the glory of the spring? – Aldo Leopold

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

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

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

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

Relegating grizzlies to Alaska is about like relegating happiness heaven; one may never get there. – Aldo Leopold

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. – Aldo Leopold

Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television. – Aldo Leopold

Is it possible to preserve the element of Unknown Places in our national life? Is it practicable to do so, without undue loss in economic values? I say ‘yes’ to both questions. But we must act vigorously and quickly, before the remaining bits of wilderness have disappeared. – Aldo Leopold

Two things hold promise of improving those lights. One is to apply science to land-use.The other is to cultivate a love of country a little less spangled with stars, and a little more imbued with that respect for mother-earth – the lack of which is, to me, the outstanding attribute of the machine-age. – Aldo Leopold

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

The modern dogma is comfort at any cost. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works. What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one’s own land? – Aldo Leopold

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

Six days shalt thou paddle and pack, but on the seventh thou shall wash thy socks. – Aldo Leopold

Teach the student to see the land, understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands. – Aldo Leopold

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

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

At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant. – Aldo Leopold

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

The whole conflict thus boils down to a question of degree. We of the minority see a law of diminiA1:A96shing returns in progress; our opponents do not. – Aldo Leopold