Environmentalism, Conservation, and Sustainability: 
Part II:   What is Conservation?

Conservation is the belief that humans can take steps to protect their environment by measuring and guiding human activity. Conservation creates national parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness preserves, ecologically protected areas, and various other efforts that limit human access in order to preserve ecosystems.

 Air, water, soil, minerals, fuels, plants, and animals are among the Earth's natural resources. Conservation is the process of carefully managing these resources so they will continue to be available to all living creatures in the future.

Natural resources provide everything we require to live, such as food, water, air, and shelter. Small plants can be replaced quickly after they are used; other resources, like huge trees, require a long time to restore. Both are renewable resources.

The Earth's resources, such as oil, natural gas, and coal, can neither be replaced nor replenished. Once they are used up, they are gone forever. They are called nonrenewable resources.

Resources are wasted daily. Animals have been hunted to the point of extinction. Land is exposed to wind and water damage when forests are cut down. Because of bad agricultural techniques once fertile soil is depleted or lost due to erosion. Nonrenewable fuel supplies are gradually being depleted. The environment has been polluted by toxins released from industry and vehicle exhausts.

Many resources will be used up if they are improperly handled. Natural resources, on the other hand, will last much longer if utilized correctly and efficiently. People may limit waste and responsibly manage natural resources by practicing conservation.

In the last two centuries, human numbers have blossomed. Billions of people consume natural resources rapidly as they eat food, construct houses, generate products, and burn gasoline for transportation and electricity. The conservation of natural resources is critical to the continuation of life as we know it.

The desire to conserve our natural environment frequently conflicts with other requirements of producing livelihoods that can sustain an individual or a community. A wooded area may be a wonderful location for a farm for some individuals. For commercial reasons, a lumber firm might want to clear the trees from the region. On the land, a business may wish to erect a factory or retail mall. All these things produce jobs, which in turn provide crucial resources for housing and food. However, the advantages of construction and development must be compared to the injuries to animals who may be compelled to relocate, habitat destruction, the depletion of resources we may want in the future (such as water or wood), and environmental damage.  These are just a few examples that demonstrate how development and conservation must go hand in hand.

September 15, 2023 — Debby McKnight