Making Wise Choices
Conservation is the wise use of natural
minerals, water, plants, animals, etc.) and cultural resources (different
groups of people from different parts of the world). It may also include
protecting the large collections of resources that make up a habitat or
environment. Conservation is important to make certain changes don’t
happen too quickly. Rapid change can force animals, plants,
places, or people to become endangered or extinct.
What Are Natural Resources?
Cultural resources such as stories, sacred ceremonies, and foods are valuable.
They are important in preserving the planet’s diversity.
Natural resources are things in nature that
we use. Some of these things - like water, air, and wood - are easy to identify.
Some resources are not so obvious. A good example is oil (petroleum). Oil is
used to make gasoline for cars and trucks. Oil is also important in making
plastics. Plastics are used in countless things including TVs, computers, and
cars. Another “hidden resource” is sand. Different sands are melted
to make glass. Glass is used to make windows, bottles, jars, and many other
What Are Cultural Resources?
People and their cultures can also be a resource. Different cultures give
us a variety of art, music, myths, medicines,
foods, and languages. Conserving cultural resources makes certain we live in
a world full of diversity and different ideas.
Conservation's Double Goal
You can think of conservation as a goal with
- The protection of valued resources - the preservation, management, and
care of natural and cultural resources
- Protection from change - the keeping or protecting of something from change,
loss, or damage
Why Do We Need To Conserve?
One answer is very simple. We need to conserve
to make certain we have resources for ourselves and for people in the future.
Conservation will allow future generations to enjoy natural resources such
as clean rivers and lakes, wilderness areas, a diverse wildlife population,
healthy soil, and clean air.
Resources Are Necessary for Life!
Many natural resources are necessary for our survival. It may be difficult
to imagine that we could ever run out of fresh water, clean air, and good soil
for growing food. But in some places this is already happening.
First Understand, Then Plan
Plants, animals, herbs, and other forest products are often illegally taken
from protected forests and sold in markets. Taking products illegally from
protected places is called poaching.
Understanding how to conserve means taking
a look at the big picture. We need to look at all the resources and how people
use them. We also need to remember that animals and plants need many of these
same resources. Then we need to come up with a good plan that will share the
resources among all living things.
Conservationists: People Who Save the World from Destruction
People devoted to the preservation of cultural
and natural resources are called conservationists. Conservationists do many
kinds of work. Some study endangered species to find the best ways to help
them survive. Others work on finding ways to protect rivers, lakes, forests,
and other environments.
They also make plans to help environments and resources recover from damage.
In addition, conservationists educate others about conservation.
Everyone Can Help
Some people are professional conservationists. They may work for national
parks, zoos, or organizations like the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Ordinary
people are conservationists, too. They volunteer their time or give money to
help conservation projects. Every town and country has people like this.
Conservationists You Should Know
Some conservationists become famous because their work saves an animal, place,
or culture from disappearing. Below are the names of some famous conservationists
and details about their work.
- Jane Goodall has helped protect chimpanzees in Africa.
- John Muir helped pioneer the idea of national parks in the United States.
- Anna Merz has worked to ensure the survival of black rhinoceroses in
- Laurie Marker has helped people understand the importance of protecting
cheetahs in Africa.
The conservationist Jane Goodall observes a chimpanzee in Gombe Stream National
Park in Tanzania, Africa. Jane Goodall is famous for her work with chimpanzees.
Biodiversity: A Top Priority
Most scientists believe that conservation
of biodiversity should
be the most important thing people and governments work on. Preserving biodiversity
will help ensure a healthy planet for all living things.
Variety Is Good
Conserving biodiversity makes sure that as many living things survive as possible.
This is important to humans because there are still many undiscovered plant
and animal species.
For example, some plants contain chemicals that may help cure or prevent diseases like
cancer. These plants may grow in a place no one has explored. If we destroy
a place’s biodiversity, we may never know that there was a species of
plant that could have provided an important cure.
Stopping the Destruction
Conserving biodiversity starts by not destroying or damaging the environments
we have left on Earth. Human activities like cutting trees, draining wetlands,
polluting the air and water, and overfishing are
endangering wild areas such as rainforests, wetlands, rivers, and oceans.
Keeping a Balance
Different types of environments exist all
over our planet. Each type of environment has its own special weather, plants
and animals, water supply, minerals, and other resources. Everything is in
balance. Life in that environment depends on all its resources for survival.
If any of the resources are removed too fast or removed completely, it destroys
the balance. When an environment is out of balance, many living things may
have trouble surviving.
Fires cause significant losses of forest and habitat each year. Some forests
are cleared using fire, to make room for crops and livestock. Lightning during
the dry season starts others.
Conservation is also important because all the living things in an environment
are connected. For example, when we cut a forest for the wood, we take more
than just trees. We also take away the balance, so the environment no longer
works like a forest for all the organisms living
When we replant the trees, it helps replace the wood we took. But all the
other resources may be out of balance or damaged. The replanted area is just
trees for many years until all the plants and animals become stable
again. In some environments, this may take 100 years or more. If the environment
is too badly damaged, the balance may never return. This may cause the extinction
of some species.
Keeping It All Together
Scientists and conservationists believe the
best way to preserve cultural and biological diversity is by protecting large
pieces of the environment. For example, they may encourage governments to protect
an entire wetlands or a large section of tropical rainforest. A second way
is to connect environments with corridors where wildlife and plants can move
without being detected.
Start Being a Conservationist Today
A conservationist looks for conservation solutions and then takes action.
Think about paper. One of the biggest uses of trees is paper products. Cardboard
and paper can be recycled.
When paper products are recycled, fewer trees need to be cut. Making paper
products also uses a lot of water, so reducing paper use also saves water.
What are some ways you could help conserve trees and water?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Using less paper, reusing paper, and recycling paper saves trees and water.
Recycling aluminum cans will save money, resources, and prevent pollution.
For example, it takes much less energy to
recycle an aluminum soft drink can than it does to make a new one. Making energy
uses up resources like oil and coal. So just by recycling the aluminum cans
you use, you become an instant conservationist!
Every Little Bit Helps
Making compost - a mix of dead plants and dirt - and adding it to soil helps
make the soil richer and healthier. Rich soil is important for growing food.
Conservation consists of big and small efforts. Saving animal species like
panda, elephant, and orangutan from
extinction may take a big effort from many individuals and governments. But
you and your school class can do your part, too. For example, you could raise
money to buy an acre of rainforest to protect it from logging and other damaging
uses. You can contact a local conservation organization. Ask about ways your
class might help with conservation right in your own community!