Nature conservation

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Satellite photograph of industrial deforestation in the Tierras Bajas project in eastern Bolivia, using skyline logging and replacement of forests by agriculture Bolivia-Deforestation-EO.JPG
Satellite photograph of industrial deforestation in the Tierras Bajas project in eastern Bolivia, using skyline logging and replacement of forests by agriculture
Much attention has been given to preserving the natural characteristics of Hopetoun Falls, Australia, while allowing access for visitors Hopetoun falls.jpg
Much attention has been given to preserving the natural characteristics of Hopetoun Falls, Australia, while allowing access for visitors

Nature conservation is a conservation movement focused on protecting species from extinction, maintaining and restoring habitats, enhancing ecosystem services and protecting biological diversity. A range of values underlie conservation, which can be guided by biocentrism, anthropocentrism, ecocentrism and sentientism. [1] There has recently been a movement towards evidence-based conservation which calls for greater use of scientific evidence to improve the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

Contents

Introduction

Conservation goals include conserving habitat, preventing deforestation, halting species extinction, reducing overfishing and mitigating climate change. Different philosophical outlooks guide conservationists towards these different goals.

The principal value underlying many expressions of the conservation ethic is that the natural world has intrinsic and intangible worth along with utilitarian value – a view carried forward by parts of the scientific conservation movement and some of the older Romantic schools of the ecology movement. Philosophers have attached intrinsic value to different aspects of nature, whether this is individual organisms (biocentrism) or ecological wholes such as species or ecosystems (ecoholism). [2]

More utilitarian schools of conservation have an anthropocentric outlook and seek a proper valuation of local and global impacts of human activity upon nature in their effect upon human wellbeing, now and to posterity. How such values are assessed and exchanged among people determines the social, political and personal restraints and imperatives by which conservation is practiced. This is a view common in the modern environmental movement. There is increasing interest in extending the responsibility for human wellbeing to include the welfare of sentient animals. Branches of conservation ethics focusing on sentient individuals include ecofeminism [3] and compassionate conservation. [4]

In the United States of America, the year 1864 saw the publication of two books which laid the foundation for Romantic and Utilitarian conservation traditions in America. The posthumous publication of Henry David Thoreau's Walden established the grandeur of unspoiled nature as a citadel to nourish the spirit of man. A very different book from George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature , later subtitled "The Earth as Modified by Human Action", catalogued his observations of man exhausting and altering the land from which his sustenance derives.

The consumer conservation ethic is sometimes expressed by the four R's: " Rethink, Reduce, Recycle, Repair". This social ethic primarily relates to local purchasing, moral purchasing, the sustained and efficient use of renewable resources, the moderation of destructive use of finite resources, and the prevention of harm to common resources such as air and water quality, the natural functions of a living earth, and cultural values in a built environment.

The person credited with formulating the conservation ethic in the United States is former president, Theodore Roosevelt. [5]

Terminology

The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others.

Theodore Roosevelt [6]

In common usage, the term refers to the activity of systematically protecting natural resources such as forests, including biological diversity. Carl F. Jordan defines the term as: [7]

biological conservation as being a philosophy of managing the environment in a manner that does not despoil, exhaust or extinguish.

While this usage is not new, the idea of biological conservation has been applied to the principles of ecology, biogeography, anthropology, economy and sociology to maintain biodiversity.

The term "conservation" itself may cover the concepts such as cultural diversity, genetic diversity and the concept of movements environmental conservation, seedbank (preservation of seeds). These are often summarized as the priority to respect diversity.

Much recent movement in conservation can be considered a resistance to commercialism and globalization. Slow Food is a consequence of rejecting these as moral priorities, and embracing a slower and more locally focused lifestyle.

Practice

The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia Daintree Rainforest.JPG
The Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia

Distinct trends exist regarding conservation development. While many countries' efforts to preserve species and their habitats have been government-led, those in the North Western Europe tended to arise out of the middle-class and aristocratic interest in natural history, expressed at the level of the individual and the national, regional or local learned society. Thus countries like Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, etc. had what we would today term non-governmental organizations – in the shape of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, National Trust and County Naturalists' Trusts (dating back to 1889, 1895 and 1912 respectively) Natuurmonumenten, Provincial Conservation Trusts for each Dutch province, Vogelbescherming, etc. – a long time before there were national parks and national nature reserves. This in part reflects the absence of wilderness areas in heavily cultivated Europe, as well as a longstanding interest in laissez-faire government in some countries, like the UK, leaving it as no coincidence that John Muir, the Scottish-born founder of the National Park movement (and hence of government-sponsored conservation) did his sterling work in the US, where he was the motor force behind the establishment of such national parks as Yosemite and Yellowstone. Nowadays, officially more than 10 percent of the world is legally protected in some way or the other, and in practice, private fundraising is insufficient to pay for the effective management of so much land with protective status.

Protected areas in developing countries, where probably as many as 70–80 percent of the species of the world live, still enjoy very little effective management and protection. Some countries, such as Mexico, have non-profit civil organizations and landowners dedicated to protecting vast private property, such is the case of Hacienda Chichen's Maya Jungle Reserve and Bird Refuge [8] in Chichen Itza, Yucatán. The Adopt A Ranger Foundation has calculated that worldwide about 140,000 rangers are needed for the protected areas in developing and transition countries. There are no data on how many rangers are employed at the moment, but probably less than half the protected areas in developing and transition countries have any rangers at all and those that have them are at least 50% short This means that there would be a worldwide ranger deficit of 105,000 rangers in the developing and transition countries.

Adopt A Ranger, [9] fears that the ranger deficit is the greatest single limiting factor in effectively conserving nature in 75% of the world. Currently, no conservation organization or western country or international organization addresses this problem. Adopt A Ranger has been incorporated to draw worldwide public attention to the most urgent problem that conservation is facing in developing and transition countries: protected areas without field staff. Very specifically, it will contribute to solving the problem by fundraising to finance rangers in the field. It will also help governments in developing and transition countries to assess realistic staffing needs and staffing strategies.

Others, including Survival International, have advocated instead for cooperation with local tribal peoples, who are natural allies of the conservation movement and can provide cost-effective protection. [10]

The terms conservation and preservation are frequently conflated outside the academic, scientific, and professional kinds of literature. The US National Park Service offers the following explanation of the important ways in which these two terms represent very different conceptions of environmental protection ethics:

″Conservation and preservation are closely linked and may indeed seem to mean the same thing. Both terms involve a degree of protection, but how that protection is carried out is the key difference. Conservation is generally associated with the protection of natural resources, while preservation is associated with the protection of buildings, objects, and landscapes. Put simply, conservation seeks the proper use of nature, while preservation seeks protection of nature from use.

During the environmental movement of the early 20th century, two opposing factions emerged: conservationists and preservationists. Conservationists sought to regulate human use while preservationists sought to eliminate human impact altogether.″ [11]

Evidence-based conservation

Evidence-based conservation is the application of evidence in conservation management actions and policy making. It is defined as systematically assessing scientific information from published, peer-reviewed publications and texts, practitioners' experiences, independent expert assessment, and local and indigenous knowledge on a specific conservation topic. This includes assessing the current effectiveness of different management interventions, threats and emerging problems and economic factors. [12]

Evidence-based conservation was organized based on the observations that decision making in conservation was based on intuition and/ or practitioner experience often disregarding other forms of evidence of successes and failures (e.g. scientific information). This has led to costly and poor outcomes. [13] Evidence-based conservation provides access to information that will support decision making through an evidence-based framework of “what works” in conservation. [14]

The evidence-based approach to conservation is based on evidence-based practice which started in medicine and later spread to nursing, education, psychology and other fields. It is part of the larger movement towards evidence-based practices.

See also

Aegopodium podagraria1 ies.jpg   Environmentportal Earth Day Flag.png   Ecologyportal

Related Research Articles

Environmental movement in the United States

In the United States today, the organized environmental movement is represented by a wide range of organizations sometimes called non-governmental organizations or NGOs. These organizations exist on local, national, and international scales. Environmental NGOs vary widely in political views and in the amount they seek to influence the environmental policy of the United States and other governments. The environmental movement today consists of both large national groups and also many smaller local groups with local concerns. Some resemble the old U.S. conservation movement - whose modern expression is The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and National Geographic Society - American organizations with a worldwide influence.

Natural resource Resources that exist without actions of humankind

Natural resources are resources that exist without any actions of humankind. This includes all valued characteristics such as magnetic, gravitational, electrical properties and forces, etc. On Earth, it includes sunlight, atmosphere, water, land along with all vegetation, crops, and animal life that naturally subsists upon or within the previously identified characteristics and substances.

Environmental movement Movement for addressing environmental issues

The environmental movement, also including conservation and green politics, is a diverse philosophical, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues. Environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the environment through changes in public policy and individual behavior. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in ecosystems, the movement is centered on ecology, health, and human rights.

The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental, and social movement that seeks to protect natural resources, including animal and plant species as well as their habitat for the future. Evidence-based conservation seeks to use high quality scientific evidence to make conservation efforts more effective.

This is an index of conservation topics. It is an alphabetical index of articles relating to conservation biology and conservation of the natural environment.

In environmental philosophy, environmental ethics is an established field of practical philosophy "which reconstructs the essential types of argumentation that can be made for protecting natural entities and the sustainable use of natural resources." The main competing paradigms are anthropocentrism, physiocentrism, and theocentrism. Environmmental ethics exerts influence on a large range of disciplines including environmental law, environmental sociology, ecotheology, ecological economics, ecology and environmental geography.

Conservation biology The study of threats to biological diversity

Conservation biology is the management of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.

A land ethic is a philosophy or theoretical framework about how, ethically, humans should regard the land. The term was coined by Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) in his A Sand County Almanac (1949), a classic text of the environmental movement. There he argues that there is a critical need for a "new ethic," an "ethic dealing with human's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it".

Habitat conservation management of habitat

Habitat conservation is a management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore habitats and prevent species extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology.

Wilderness Undisturbed natural environment

Wilderness or wildlands, are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally referred to terrestrial environments, though growing attention is being placed on marine wilderness. Recent maps of wilderness suggest it covers roughly one quarter of Earth's terrestrial surface, but is being rapidly degraded by human activity. Even less wilderness remains in the ocean, with only 13.2% free from intense human activity.

Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws.

Ecological Society of America Ecological professional association

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a professional organization of ecological scientists. Based in the United States and founded in 1915, ESA publications include peer-reviewed journals, newsletters, fact sheets, and teaching resources. It holds an annual meeting at different locations in the USA and Canada. In addition to its publications and annual meeting, ESA is engaged in public policy, science, education and diversity issues.

Environmentalism Broad philosophy, ideology and social movement concerning environmental wellbeing

Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology, and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the impact of changes to the environment on humans, animals, plants and non-living matter. While environmentalism focuses more on the environmental and nature-related aspects of green ideology and politics, ecology combines the ideology of social ecology and environmentalism.

Ecocentrism is a term used in ecological political philosophy to denote a nature-centered, as opposed to human-centered, system of values. The justification for ecocentrism usually consists in an ontological belief and subsequent ethical claim. The ontological belief denies that there are any existential divisions between human and non-human nature sufficient to claim that humans are either (a) the sole bearers of intrinsic value or (b) possess greater intrinsic value than non-human nature. Thus the subsequent ethical claim is for an equality of intrinsic value across human and non-human nature, or 'biospherical egalitarianism'.

Environmental philosophy branch of philosophy

Environmental philosophy is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the natural environment and humans' place within it. It asks crucial questions about human environmental relations such as "What do we mean when we talk about nature?" "What is the value of the natural, that is non-human environment to us, or in itself?" "How should we respond to environmental challenges such as environmental degradation, pollution and climate change?" "How can we best understand the relationship between the natural world and human technology and development?" and "What is our place in the natural world?" Environmental philosophy includes environmental ethics, environmental aesthetics, ecofeminism, environmental hermeneutics, and environmental theology. Some of the main areas of interest for environmental philosophers are:

Forest protection preservation or improvement of a forest threatened or affected by natural or man made causes

Forest protection is a branch of forestry which is concerned with the preservation or improvement of a forest and prevention and control of damage to forest by natural or man made causes. (example - fire, animals, insect, fungi, injurious plants and adverse climatic conditions.)

Deep ecology Ecological and environmental philosophy

Deep ecology is an environmental philosophy promoting the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs, plus a restructuring of modern human societies in accordance with such ideas.

Conservation in the United States

Conservation in the United States can be traced back to the 19th century with the formation of the first National Park. Conservation generally refers to the act of consciously and efficiently using land and/or its natural resources. This can be in the form of setting aside tracts of land for protection from hunting or urban development, or it can take the form of using less resources such as metal, water, or coal. Usually, this process of conservation occurs through or after legislation on local or national levels is passed.

Conservation photography photography genre

Conservation photography is the active use of the photographic process and its products, within the parameters of photojournalism, to advocate for conservation outcomes.

The relationship between animal ethics and environmental ethics concerns differing conceptions of duties towards and the treatment of animals, particularly those living in spaces outside of direct human control. Generally, animal ethics places the well-being and interests of sentient individuals at the center of concern, while environmental ethics focuses on the preservation of biodiversity, populations, ecosystems, species and nature itself; under this view, individual animals may be removed or killed if they threaten any of these entities. As a result, it has been argued by some ethicists, that the two ethical positions are incompatible, while others argue that the positions are reconcilable, or that the disagreements aren't as strong as they first appear.

References

  1. Newman, Varner, Lunquist (2018). Defending Biodiversity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9781139024105.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Gardiner and Thompson (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics. OUP.
  3. Hawkins, Ronnie Zoe (1998). "Ecofeminism and Nonhumans: Continuity, Difference, Dualism, and Domination". Hypatia. 13 (1): 158–197. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.1998.tb01356.x. ISSN   0887-5367. JSTOR   3810611.
  4. Wallach, Arian D.; Batavia, Chelsea; Bekoff, Marc; Alexander, Shelley; Baker, Liv; Ben‐Ami, Dror; Boronyak, Louise; Cardilini, Adam P. A.; Carmel, Yohay; Celermajer, Danielle; Coghlan, Simon (2020). "Recognizing animal personhood in compassionate conservation". Conservation Biology. n/a (n/a). doi: 10.1111/cobi.13494 . ISSN   1523-1739. PMID   32144823.
  5. "The Conservation Ethic & The Founding the US Forest Service". Alpha Steward. 10 April 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  6. Theodore Roosevelt, Address to the Deep Waterway Convention Memphis, TN, October 4, 1907
  7. Jordan, Carl (1995). Replacing Quantity With Quality As a Goal for Global Management . Wiley. ISBN   0-471-59515-2.
  8. Haciendachichen.com, "The Importance of Eco-Design"
  9. Adopt-a-ranger.org Archived 3 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Tribal Conservationists
  11. National Park Service: Conservation versus preservation
  12. "The Basics". Conservation Evidence. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  13. Sutherland, William J; Pullin, Andrew S.; Dolman, Paul M.; Knigh, Teri M. (June 2004). "The need for evidence-based conservation". Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 19 (6): 305–308. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2004.03.018. PMID   16701275.
  14. Sutherland, William J. (July 2003). "Evidence-based Conservation". Conservation in Practice. 4 (3): 39–42. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4629.2003.tb00068.x.

Further reading