Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eco Living: Conservation and Preservation

Happy Earth Awareness Month! For April's eco living article on anb (all natural beauty) mall I have written an article on conservation and preservation. Basically I have explained the differences between these two terms, and I also provide a few quick eco tips and lots of links to environmental, ecological, conservation, and preservation non-profit organizations.

So like many of my previous eco living articles, I am sharing my extra thoughts and notes on this subject, here on my personal blog. :) I won't define the difference between the two words here (since I already did that in my article) but here is more food for thought.

Many people mix up the terms conservation and preservation nowadays. In the early 1900s, there was a very clear cut distinction between the two terms (in the U.S.), and in my opinion, there was still a pretty strong distinction up until maybe a decade or so ago. I remember when I was a teen (when I first learned about environmental issues; so about 19 or so years ago) and during my undergrad years (studying environmental issues/biology), I learned about the differences between the two. But sometime between the time I graduated college and now, I've noticed a lot of people (the general public) use the terms interchangeably. I even noticed that many (though not all) of my fellow grad school classmates (when I was getting my masters in environmental science and policy not too long ago) also used the terms in place of each other. And sometimes the wrong word comes out of my mouth too (slip of the tongue!), even though I know the difference! ;P The lines between the two have become blurred, at least in the public eye and even to various degrees in the environmental field itself.

As an environmentalist I am an advocate of both conservation and preservation (a lot of other naturalists and environmentalists support one or the other, though many support both like me). I think both conservation and preservation are needed. In theory, preservation probably sounds the most ideal to many 'green' advocates: that we (humans) should leave the land, animals, and plants in a 'pristine state', and that the environment should be preserved for its own sake. I think that preservation is needed, because of the utter devastation we have had on this Planet. In my mind and heart, not everything is a resource to be exploited: we share this Earth with a vast array of fascinating creatures large and small, and humans are not the center of the universe (even though many people think we are). Some land should be relatively untouched in my humble opinion. Advocates of preservation disagree on the level of human involvement in preservation. Some people believe that no management is the best policy (to leave the wild area totally alone), while others believe in limited management (that humans should oversee an area or species to prevent issues such human development in an area, but for the most part nature is left alone).

But there are other things to consider. A lot of habitat and ecosystems are not in 'pristine conditions'; there is habitat loss, deforestation, threatened and endangered species, pollution, etc. That's where conservation comes into play: to manage habitats, ecosystems, and species and to take responsibility for our actions, and try to reverse some of the damage we have done to the Earth. And for that conservation management and human involvement is needed. Conservation is about WISE human usage. Humans live, breathe, and need to consume (some) resources to survive. But we should use natural resources wisely, so that they are there for future generations.

So in a nutshell, I think both preservation and conservation are important and needed, especially in modern day times. I think that it is important to distinguish the two terms, understand the difference, and realize that one is not necessarily better than the other and that they are both needed (or at least that is what I personally believe).

No comments: