dymaxion2An award-winning PBS documentariy series, The Living Edens, portrayed several of the last remaining places on Earth of extraordinary natural beauty. Many of the most populated areas of our planet were once places of extraordinary beauty, but they have been so degraded by intensive human development that this beauty has been lost. Europe and the populated areas of the rest of the world have no Living Edens left. Of North America’s four, two are national parks and two are in the Arctic. All of them are threatened, and many, perhaps all, will be developed in this century as the insatiable thirst of humanity for more living space and resources transforms the planet inexorably into homogeneous urban subdivisions and desert. These soon-to-be-lost Living Edens are:

  1. Anamala/Kerala (S.Asia)
  2. Borneo
  3. Bhutan
  4. Canyonlands (US)
  5. Denali (Alaska)
  6. Etosha (S.Africa)
  7. Glacier Bay (Alaska)
  8. Kakadu (N.Australia)
  9. Kamchatka (Siberia)
  10. Madagascar
  11. Manu (Amazon)
  12. Namibia
  13. Ngorongoro (E.Africa)
  14. Palau (Micronesia)
  15. Patagonia (S.America)
  16. S.Georgia Isl. (S.Atlantic)
  17. Thailand
  18. Yellowstone (US)

What would you add to the list? An Eden has to be an area large enough to have a self-sustaining, balanced ecosystem (i.e. relatively wild), and of course, it has to be beautiful, though beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve never visited any of the 18 Edens on PBS’s list. The most beautiful place I’ve ever been is the temperate rainforest on Vancouver Island, BC, but it has been largely destroyed by logging. The next most beautiful place I’ve ever been is the Island of Mustique in the Grenadine Islands of the Caribbean, but it’s far from wilderness — the only reason it looks relatively natural is that only multi-millionaires live there, so there are only a few (large) homes on large tracts of land well spaced out. So far they haven’t ruined the beaches.

The challenge, it seems to me, is to expose people to this astonishing beauty before we destroy it, but not let the crowds and the commercial exploitation of tourists destroy it in the very process of showing people what we have to lose.
elves chasm

Photo of Elves Chasm, Grand Canyon by Danish photographer Hans Nyberg.

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  1. Doug Alder says:

    Without a doubt Haida Gwaii, despite the logging that has taken place in the Charlottes. Of course my memories are from the late 60s when I lived in Sandspit for 6 months.

  2. I agree with Haida Gwaii, and I was going to say the old-growth forests in most of north-western British Columbia, which are right now being logged further and further in. Sigh.

  3. Zion NP and Bryce Canyon NP, both in S. Utah. Breathtaking!

  4. Definitely the west coast of Vancouver Island from the spine of the mountains through the inlest to the sea and out to the islands and the rest of the continental shelf. But also in this part of the world we have the Rocky Mountains in Jasper and Banff National Parks, the Tatshenshini, and pretty much everything north of 60. If you have never been north, it will blow your mind.In the rest of Canada I have to say that Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Might not be big enough to be self-sustaining, and it’s not truly pristine with buffalo trampling it, but it’s a pretty good second, and it’s amazing, given the interests in that area, that such a huge pair of tracts of land was preserved at all.

  5. Glen Bastedo says:

    Of the places I’ve been:1. Antartica – Dozens of whales, hundreds of seals, millions of penguins surrounded by huge icebergs, mountains and glaciers.2. Salar de Uyuni (Slat Flats in SE Bolivia) – Like being in a Salvador Dali painting.3. Iguazu Falls (Border of Argentina, Brazil & Paraguay) – Dozens of waterfalls. Has been developed a bit, but you still get to see 2-foot long lizards cross the path in front of you.

  6. mark says:

    the Kimberly region in NW Australia is beautiful..pristine wilderness

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