Nothing against the good Dr Baz, but, given the very point of this story was to promote the idea of 5,000 indigenous rangers being employed to look after the country, his choice of words is unfortunate. The truth is that Australia's 'wilderness' has been altered, cherished and cared for by indigenous people for 60,000+ years. To talk about a land "untouched by humans' has echoes of the the dodgy 'Terra Nullius' argument. Nevertheless, Dr Traill is on the right track with his general point - that we have big chunks of country where nature prevails and that we should get stuck into lending nature a hand.
"A STUDY has identified 40 per cent of Australia - 3 million square kilometres - as the largest intact wilderness on Earth, ranking in quality with the Amazon forest, Antarctica and the Sahara desert. "Few Australians realise the extent and quality of their own wilderness," said Barry Traill, a wildlife ecologist who co-authored the study identifying 12 regions of Australia that "remain almost completely untouched by humans". "As the world's last great wilderness areas disappear under pressure from human impact, to have a continent with this much remaining wilderness intact is unusual and globally significant," Dr Traill said.
While on the always-prickly subject of defining wilderness, the often-prickly British author Jonathan Raban, now self-exiled in Seattle, appealed to my inner-outlaw with this comment in a recent Granta interview:
It always seems to me odd to call a place a wilderness when every wilderness area in the US bristles with rules and regulations as to how you can behave, what you’re allowed to do, and is patrolled by armed rangers enforcing the small print. They’re parks, of course, not wildernesses at all. A wilderness that’s truly wild is beyond human rule . . .