The concept that Nature cannot look after itself and needs protection from the ravages of man in the interests of man is comparatively modern. The problem arose only when the increasing use of coal, the invention of steam power, and the consequent entry into the industrial age led to a large expansion of the population and its concentration into particular areas, as happened in Great Britain. The reservation of small tracts to prevent the extermination of rare plants is no novelty; in Switzerland certain plants, one being the edelweiss, have been protected in this way for a long time. The idea, however, that a whole region should be kept inviolate for all time from exploitation and development, for the benefit of the people, is comparatively recent.
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