What is conservation?

 

The planet that we live on is a phenomenal system of interacting and diverse ecosystems. These ecosystems are very delicate and intricate systems that have been around for approximately 3.5 billion years! Would you believe me if I told you that the pristine landscapes you see today in preserves are still nowhere near how lush and vast our planet was before human existence?

Image result for edge of appalachia preserve

https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/ohio/placesweprotect/edge-of-appalachia-preserve-system.xml

I do not own the rights to this photo and am not taking credit for it. All rights are respect to the owner. This photo is of a 20,000+ sqft preserve near my current location named the Edge of Appalachia. The area has phenomenal lookout points and many beautiful species of trees such as multiple species of oak and maple trees. I have visited this location multiple times as a spectator and to volunteer through the incredible Nature Conservancy stewardship program.

Original ecosystems have, since then, evolved into more subspecies with even more incredible features. In turn with this evolution came us, humans! However, as we expand our technology base and energy consumption our beautiful ecosystems are becoming increasingly in danger due to human encroachment on them. Frequent research comes out and tells of how a plastic product that we created is bringing harm to marine species or ending up in our drinking water. These are all discoveries that are vital to the quest for sustainability. Currently we are set on a path to another mass extinction due to overpopulation, irresponsible land managing, and overuse of pollutants. However, there is good news to this. As humans, we are very adept to change and can alter this harmful path we are treading down. So that brings us to the question of conservation. What even is conservation? What is the goal? Are conservationists just all tree-huggers? Conservation is a continuous act of trying to preserve and restore our incredible planet. A common misconception I see in people is conservation radicalism. Essentially this is people believing that the goal of conservation is to have no large developed cities, and everyone just lives essentially as cavemen, so we don’t get in the way of ecosystems. (Although I think that would be wholesome and satisfying way of life, as I am undoubtedly a nature nerd) This is far from the goal of conservation, as humans we cannot overlook the fact of us being a part of these ecosystems. As a part of an ecosystem we use these precious resources, food, water, and shelter built from materials found in these ecosystems. Therefore, it needs to be in high priority that if we want to strive as a civilization we need to work hand and hand with the natural world. It can’t be put on the backburner. As a global community we need to do our part in conserving. Whether it be volunteering at a sustainability event, bringing your own reusable cup to avoid plastic waste, or limiting the number of unneeded miles being driven. These are all acts in the goal of conservation. Now for tree-hugging. While I admit I am a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, not all conservation is centered around this. The problems are much more in depth than just saving a few species of marine life or flora species in preserves. The problem of climate change is expansive, it is only going to continue to diminish ecosystems until we change the way we use our earth’s natural resources. Conservationists across all disciplines are studying how to slow or dissolve this diminish. There are wonderful ways to reduce use of nonrenewable resources that I hope to touch upon in later articles.

Think green, friends!

Dylan Dixon

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