||In some contexts, the efficient and non-wasteful use of natural resources; in others, any form of environmental protection. It is useful to distinguish between conservation and preservation, plus the different uses of these terms in various countries. In the North American context, an early advocate of conservation, Gifford Pinchot, wrote in 1901 that conservation (Wall, 1994):
demands the complete and orderly development of all our resources for the benefit of all people [and] recognises fully the right of the present generation to use what it needs and all it needs of the natural resources now available, but it recognises equally our obligation so to use what we need that our descendants shall not be deprived of what they need.This definition of conservation was an important foundation for the later idea of sustainable development.
In the 1890s American environmentalism, which had emerged from the work of George Perkins Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, John James Audubon and George Catlin, divided into two approaches. Gifford Pinchot and other advocates of conservation argued with John Muir and other advocates of preservation about what values the environmental movement of the time should adopt. Conservationists saw nature as natural resources that were available for human use, while preservationists attributed inherent value to nature and wilderness. The conservationists emerged victorious, and since that time preservation in the USA has effectively ceased as a movement. However, preservationist ideas continue through the writing of Aldo Leopold (1949) and the contemporary deep ecology movement. Many of the older preservationist groups (as opposed to a movement) tend to be species- or site-specific. Some of the newer, and more radical, preservationist inspired groups, such as Earth First!, advocate the preservation of the idea of wilderness and then campaign for its protection at specific sites.
Glacken (1967) and Grove (1995) both recognized that the literature which influenced conservation in the USA, including the 1864 publication of George Perkins Marsh\'s book Man and Nature (Lowenthal, 1965), is a history of conservation that is specific to the North American setting. Marsh\'s work was important as a synthesis of ideas. It recognized the human impact upon nature, that some forms of environmental degradation may be irreversible and that environmental degradation may result in human extinction.
Grove (1995) argued that prior to Marsh\'s work in the USA, conservation arose virtually simultaneously with colonial trade and expansion by the Venetians, Dutch, French and English in the seventeenth century. Environmental damage, and sometimes repair, was most easily documented in colonial settings, particularly islands (cf. colonialism; ecological imperialism). The promotion of conservation ideas was aided by some religious beliefs, the adoption of indigenous knowledge and practices, and the perception of threats to climate resulting from land (mis)management practices. In the French colony of Mauritius, distance from the central power\'s constraints and the emergence of Physiocracy (agricultural economics that cared for the land), aided conservation.
In the UK, nature conservation is similar to preservation in the USA, while resource conservation is similar to the ideas of American conservationists: the term preservation often means the saving of human-made, rather than natural, features of the UK landscape, whereas the preservation of human-made structures is often known as historic preservation in the USA, and heritage planning in Australia. In the UK, conservation of the human-made environment has become an important aspect of urban planning; the Civic Amenities Act of 1967 enshrined the notion of conservation areas. Conservation Planning has become an important sub-area of urban planning in many countries, especially when connected to economic development through the reuse of older built environments with potential to attract tourists.
The term conservation became more accepted across the world as people understood that it usually meant protection, but also use. In 1948, the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN) was established but in 1956, largely at US insistence, its name was changed to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN; McCormick, 1995). In 1980, the IUCN, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN, 1980), which introduced the term sustainable development.
Conservation is an aim of many people because to waste nature or natural resources is unacceptable from most economic and environmental perspectives (cf. environmental economics). However, there is significant disagreement about the appropriate approach that should be taken to conserve species, sites, habitats or even ways of life. While this has often been understood as a failure of market-mechanisms to prevent the destruction of nature, some contemporary approaches advocate conservation through market mechanisms, rather than through approaches such as creating national parks. These market-oriented approaches include the private ownership of nature (as advocated by the Wise Use movement in western USA and Canada, and self-labelled Free Market Environmentalist authors such as Anderson and Leal, 1991), applying market values to protect the environment (as advocated by Turner, Pearce and Bateman, 1994) through to various government management plans, financial assistance, and penalties for non-compliance. The relative merits of each approach are debatable, and usually depend upon the specific situation. If the intended conservation effort is successful, this very success may generate new conservation issues. Efforts to conserve some species through limiting hunting or fishing, or by eliminating their predators, may result in massive increases in numbers of that species, with detrimental cumulative impacts upon habitats and other species.
Decisions to conserve, how to conserve, what to conserve, when to conserve, and so on, are political decisions that represent value-judgements. Ideally they should be based on an understanding of ecology and ecosystems, but it should be recognized that they are also based upon political expediency.Â (PM)
References Anderson, T. and Leal D. 1991: Free market environmentalism. Boulder: Westview Press.Â Glacken, C. 1967: Traces on the Rhodian Shore. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Â Grove, R. 1995: Green imperialism: colonial expansion, tropical island Edens and the origins of environmentalism, 1600-1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â IUCN, 1980: World conservation strategy. Geneva: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, United Nations Environment Programme, World Wildlife Fund.Â Leopold, A. 1968 (1949): A Sand County almanac. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Â Lowenthal, D., ed., 1965: George Perkins Marsh: man and nature. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Â McCormick, J. 1995: The global environmental movement, 2nd edn. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.Â Pinchot, G. 1901: An extract from The fight for conservation. In D. Wall, 1994: Green history: a reader in environmental literature, philosophy and politics. London and New York: Routledge.Â Turner, R.K., Pearce, D. and Bateman, I. 1994: Environmental economics: an elementary introduction. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.