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The Land Ethic

Uniting Ecology and Ethics by Living in Community with the Land

The land ethic is more than just a concept—it's a call to action, urging us to intertwine our care for humanity with our care for the land. Dive deeper into our journey and discover how we're bringing Aldo Leopold’s philosophy to life, showcasing the transformative power of community with the natural world.

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What are Ethics?

Fundamentally grounded in values, ethics are a moral sense of right and wrong. Ethics are demonstrated through one’s actions in everyday life; when a person cares about someone or something, their conduct conveys that care and respect, inviting the same in return. Ethics direct all members of a community to treat one another with respect for the common good.

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What is a Land Ethic?

A land ethic expands the definition of “community” to include not only humans, but all of the other parts of the Earth, as well: soils, waters, plants, and animals – “the land”. In a land ethic, the relationships between people and land are intertwined; care for people cannot be separated from care for the land. Thus, a land ethic is a moral code of conduct that stems from these interconnected caring relationships.

“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
- Aldo Leopold
land ethics around the world

A Global Impact

Aldo Leopold's concept of a land ethic transcends boundaries, speaking a universal language that resonates with individuals across the globe. His ideas about respecting and ethically interacting with our natural environment continue to inspire and guide people, demonstrating that the principles of a land ethic are as pertinent and impactful today as they were when first articulated. This map illustrates the global footprint of the land ethic, highlighting the diverse array of countries whose citizens have connected with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and our mission.

Living Proof

A Land Ethic in Action

In the heart of our endeavors lies the essence of the land ethic—an encompassing belief that our community includes the natural world around us. At the Aldo Leopold Foundation, every step we take and every initiative we launch serves as living proof of our unwavering dedication to this community, showcasing the tangible impacts of adopting a land ethic and a truly interconnected approach to conservation.


Acres of prairie, savanna, and woodland stewarded


Registrants at Aldo Leopold Foundation events from 50 states and 40 countries


Members of the land ethic community
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A worker conducting a controlled burn
A smiling woman hoists an axe as she clears trees
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The Future of the Land Ethic

Evolution in a Thinking Community

Leopold recognized that his dream of a widely accepted and implemented set of values based on caring – for people, for land, and for all the connections between them – would have to “evolve… in the minds of a thinking community.” We are all part of that thinking community. To shape a land ethic for the 21st century and beyond, we must engage in thoughtful dialogue with each other, inviting a diversity of perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. Together, we can form a land ethic that will live on to guide future generations.

Download a list of Land Ethic Additional Readings in printable PDF format: