If you’ve spent a decent amount of time on social media, you must have seen some heartbreaking images of our planet’s rapidly declining state. Melting icecaps are just the tip of the iceberg.
Wait till you see the Great Pacific garbage patch. The name should give you hints; that sh*t is massive. It covers an area twice the size of Texas. Yes, Texas!
Then there are the literal mountains of garbage in many countries worldwide.
Humans seem adept at destroying and poor at conserving.
From saving endangered species to reducing our carbon footprint, there’s never been a more important time to prioritize conservation efforts. And let’s face it, it ain’t that hard.
Welcome to Conservation 101, where we break down the basics of what you need to know about protecting our natural resources. This guide will give you a comprehensive overview of the most important concepts and strategies for conserving our planet.
So please sit back, grab a cup of fair trade coffee, and let’s dive into the wonderful (and critical) world of conservation!
What is conservation?
Conservation refers to practices and approaches that aim to protect and preserve our natural resources. It involves a wide range of activities, such as reducing waste, managing land use, and protecting wildlife, with the ultimate goal of preserving the environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
Human activities significantly impact the environment, and many natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate. For instance, according to the World Wildlife Fund, we have lost more than 50% of the world’s wildlife population in the last 50 years. This loss is primarily due to habitat destruction, overfishing, and hunting.
Conservation efforts are critical to preventing further environmental damage and preserving the natural resources we rely on for survival.
These efforts include creating and enforcing laws to protect wildlife and natural habitats, promoting sustainable land use practices, and encouraging individuals and organizations to reduce their carbon footprint.
By adopting sustainable practices, we can minimize our environmental impact and ensure that natural resources are available for future generations.
Why bother conserving the environment now?
We usually talk about “Saving the Planet,” but, in reality, we are saving ourselves from the planet. Earth has been spinning around the sun for billions of years. It’ll keep spinning long after you, me, and everyone reading this blog now are long dead, buried, and forgotten.
So why bother?
Conservation is a critical issue that we must address now more than ever. With the continuously increasing world population and rapid technological advancements, the environment is under constant threat from human activities.
Conserving the environment is critical for our survival and that of all living beings, now and in the future.
First, the environment provides us with various resources we require to survive, such as air, water, and food. These resources are already threatened by pollution, overuse, and climate change. Their destruction or degradation comes at a steep cost to humans, such as the illnesses reported in smog-ridden cities around the world.
Failure to conserve the environment will lead to the depletion of these resources, severely impacting human life and potentially turning most places into desolate wastelands. That’s already happening in some areas.
Second, conserving the environment is critical to maintaining biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity threatens the ecosystem’s health and stability, which can severely affect human life. For example, bees, critical pollinators, are under threat due to habitat loss, climate change, and the use of pesticides.
Without bees, many crops and plants will not be pollinated, significantly impacting our food supply.
PSR for all generations
Conservation is an essential part of personal social responsibility (PSR), especially for younger generations.
Millennials and GenZ are some of the most passionate about environmental issues. We acutely understand what’s at stake and realize the stinking mess we’re inheriting from the older generation.
And not just that, it now falls on the younger generations to dismantle and sometimes uproot the systems that have led us here while creating better ones that will guide the planet on a sustainable path.
By conserving the environment, we can take responsibility for our actions and work towards building a better and sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.
Look at it this way. If it’s not you, who? And if not now, when? There’s an often used saying that the time to build the boats is when the sun shines. That time is now. No, yesterday.
Threats to conservation
Several threats hinder conservation efforts. Below are the most significant ones that need urgent attention and innovative solutions:
Habitat Destruction: Human activities such as deforestation, agriculture, and urbanization are significant contributors to habitat destruction, which affects wildlife populations, and leads to species extinction. In the past 50 years, we have lost more than 60% of wildlife populations due to habitat destruction, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Pollution: Pollution of our waterways, oceans, and air is a significant threat to conservation. Industrial activities, agricultural practices, and waste disposal contribute to pollution, which harms aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Polluted water can kill fish and other marine organisms, while air pollution can cause respiratory diseases in humans and animals.
Climate Change: Climate change is a significant threat to conservation, as it affects ecosystems and species worldwide. Rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns lead to the extinction of plant and animal species and the loss of habitats. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid catastrophic impacts on ecosystems.
Overexploitation of Natural Resources: Overfishing, overhunting, and overharvesting of natural resources such as timber, minerals, and fossil fuels can lead to the depletion of these resources, leading to long-term damage to ecosystems. For example, overfishing has led to a decline in fish populations, affecting marine ecosystems and communities that depend on fishing for their livelihood.
There are no easy solutions to these problems. That’s where you come in. We need people like you to figure out creative solutions to some of these problems.
Additionally, governments, businesses, and individuals must work together to protect natural resources and biodiversity, and reduce our environmental impact.
Practical conservation strategies
Conservation is an important issue that requires concerted efforts from individuals and organizations alike.
To this end, several strategies can be employed to protect our natural resources. These strategies include:
This involves repairing and rebuilding damaged ecosystems. It can be done through reforestation, wetland restoration, and the reintroduction of native species. A good example is the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, which aims to restore wildlife corridors by creating a connected network of protected areas spanning 2,000 miles.
This promotes farming practices that minimize environmental impact. It involves crop rotation, reduced tillage, and integrated pest management. The Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to organic farming research, has conducted studies showing that organic agriculture can sequester more carbon in the soil than conventional farming methods.
This involves using clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. These energy sources help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels – a significant contributor to climate change.
This involves the management of forests in a way that promotes their long-term health and productivity. Sustainable forestry practices include selective logging, reforestation, and the protection of old-growth forests. The Forest Stewardship Council is an international organization that sets standards for responsible forest management.
This involves the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests. It can include measures such as marine protected areas, sustainable fishing practices, and reduction of marine pollution.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia is a marine protected area that covers over 130,000 square miles and is home to thousands of species of marine life.
This involves the protection of plant and animal species and restoring ecosystems to support healthy populations. This can include measures such as species reintroduction, habitat protection, and conservation breeding programs.
The Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program is an example of a conservation breeding program that has successfully reintroduced the species back into the wild after it was nearly extinct.
This involves reducing the amount of waste generated by individuals and organizations and recycling and composting. It can include measures such as source reduction, which consists of reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, and closed-loop systems, which involve recycling materials back into the production process.
Your role in conservation
Individuals play a crucial role in conservation efforts. Small actions taken by each person can collectively lead to significant positive impacts on the environment. One of the easiest ways to contribute to conservation efforts is by reducing personal energy consumption.
Simple steps such as turning off lights and electronics when not in use, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and unplugging chargers when not in use can reduce energy usage and lower carbon emissions.
Reducing water usage by taking shorter showers, fixing leaky faucets, and using water-efficient appliances also help conserve natural resources.
You can also contribute to conservation efforts by reducing waste production. Recycling paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum cans can reduce the amount of waste in landfills, conserving valuable virgin resources and reducing the environmental impact of waste disposal.
Choosing reusable items instead of disposable ones, such as water bottles, coffee cups, and shopping bags, can also significantly reduce waste production.
You should also consider more sustainable food choices, such as eating locally sourced and organic food, reducing meat consumption, and avoiding single-use plastic packaging to reduce the environmental impact of food production and distribution.
There’s one more challenge to you for 2023: PLANT A TREE!
The ball is in your court.
In conclusion, conserving our natural resources is not just a responsibility but a necessity. We must preserve the planet for ourselves and future generations.
We must take action now, whether it’s through simple daily habits or advocating for policy change. Remember, every small step counts towards a greater goal.
Let’s work together to protect our planet, one action at a time.