University of Oulu

Jarkko Saarinen (2019) What are wilderness areas for? Tourism and political ecologies of wilderness uses and management in the Anthropocene, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27:4, 472-487, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2018.1456543

What are wilderness areas for? : tourism and political ecologies of wilderness uses and management in the Anthropocene

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Author: Saarinen, Jarkko1,2
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu , Finland
2School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-01-08


In global imaginaries, wilderness areas are considered to represent the last parts of “original” nature, untouched by civilization and modernization. In most cases, this is misleading as wilderness environments have been exploited, explored and also converted into administrative units in various protected area networks. Indeed, most wilderness areas have been a part of human–environment interactions for a long time and they have been influenced and modified in that interaction. As a result, wilderness is constitutively a cultural and politically loaded idea. While the Western notion of wilderness as a place where “man himself is a visitor who doesn’t remain” represents the global hegemonic conservation thinking, it does not necessarily work with different local realities, meanings and use values of “the wild”. In addition, in recent decades, the tourism industry has placed an increasing interest on nature-based and adventure tourism products creating new kinds of ideas and use needs for the remaining wilderness environments. This paper analyzes empirically how wilderness environments and their roles are seen in the context of new and traditional anthropogenic uses and meanings of wilderness areas. More specifically, the paper uses a political ecology approach to evaluate the use and management priorities in the Finnish Wilderness system.

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Series: Journal of sustainable tourism
ISSN: 0966-9582
ISSN-E: 1747-7646
ISSN-L: 0966-9582
Volume: 27
Issue: 4
Pages: 472 - 487
DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2018.1456543
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Funding: The study is part of the Academy Finland’s RELATE Centre of Excellence and Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities (REXSAC) Nordic Centre of Excellence in Arctic research, funded by Nordforsk.
Copyright information: © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of sustainable tourism on 05 Apr 2018, available online: