WHAT IS CONSERVATION?
Conservation is the wise use of resources of the earth, in order that they will be able to support or sustain the generations that are yet to come. This can be done in many ways and in different situations. For example:
- National Parks - The protection of the ecosystems, including endangered species of flora and fauna.
- Agriculture – Sustainable techniques such as the management of soil erosion and water catchment areas.
- Industry - Pollution control measures should be used.
- People - Every person should help to collect and recycle waste.
These examples show that conservation involves the use of resources so that the environment is protected and maintained, and that the ecosystems are rehabilitated and restored.
THE HISTORY OF CONSERVATION
Conservation is the philosophy of managing the environment to ensure that adequate supplies of the natural resources remain available for the present and future generations, as well as for providing for the on-going survival of other organisms.
Conserving the natural resources of the planet earth has been desirable since ancient times. However, throughout history the basic principles of the use of natural resources have been ignored, sometimes with disastrous results. For example, major losses such as the silting of rivers and estuaries, and the flooding of lowlands have been caused by the destruction of forests and grasslands protecting watersheds. This is apparent mostly in Northern China, and in Asia near the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Large areas of Northern Africa and the Middle East have been rendered barren by many centuries of uncontrolled livestock grazing. Lands have been left barren by unwise cultivation and the excessive use of woody plants for fuel that have been cut down and not replanted.
In more recently developed areas of the world, similar damage to the environment has, or is occurring. This is sometimes due to the unwise introduction of species into new environments eg. sheep and cattle introduced in to Australia with their 'hard' hoofs compared to the 'soft' hoofs of native kangaroos.
Throughout the world this presents severe conservation factors, affecting all nations, large and small. International cooperation has occurred in certain areas, but this cooperation must be extended to all areas of the environment, especially of those species classified as endangered.
THE GOALS OF CONSERVATION
- The maintenance of the essential ecological processes and life support systems. This ranges from the global cycle of nitrogen, carbon-dioxide and water, to the localised regeneration of soil, the recycling of nutrients, and the cleansing of waters and the air.
- The preservation of genetic diversity.
- The assurance that the use of the ecosystems such as grazing lands and forests is sustainable.
- The use of non-renewable resources should ensure that minerals are used conservatively, and where possible recycled. In addition, mineral mining should have the least possible adverse impact on the quality of the environment and other resources.
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