The conservation of nature is defined by all the human actions directed towards maintaining the integrity and balance of the ecosystems and biodiversity. This concept acts on preventing or correcting the damages the ecosystems suffer due to human activities.
Those actions may only be enabled after a general awareness is raised about the ecological impact of human activities. It then translates into both individual and collective actions in many human activity fields that have an impact on nature, such as:
- Forests exploitation;
- Hunting and fishing;
- The extraction of natural resources (hydrocarbon, ore mining);
- Infrastructures (roads, dams, cities, etc.);
- Water and waste management etc.
In each of these fields, conservation programs strive to limit the negative impacts on nature or to correct them.
The concept of nature conservation is built on a reasoned management of resources whereas the preservation concept works towards the protection of sensitive natural ecosystems against any human damage.
These two concepts are complementary. Together, they allow the creation of natural sanctuaries and areas where human activities lean on a durable approach of development.
A few examples
Nature conservation and preservation can take many forms, for example:
- National and regional parks, natural and biosphere reservations, the wetlands (the Ramsar Convention), etc., that allow the protection of both wild and human-impacted ecosystems;
- The programs that protect and preserve the wild fauna and flora:
- The Washington Convention, or CITES on endangered species trade;
- The Bonn Convention that works towards the protection and conservation of migratory species;
- The European Union’s LiFe Program that finances conservation and protection actions throughout the Member States of the EU;
- The European Development Fund dedicated to the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) that lead nature conservation-oriented actions;
- The dedicated programs of cooperation agencies such as the AFD, GIZ, USAID…
- The actions lead by the many NGOs that work on the field and enable various scaled projects, a thousand of which are part of the IUCN network (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
A little history of nature conservation
The notion of nature conservation itself was born in the 19th century but didn’t emerge as a concept before the creation in 1948 of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The phrase « sustainable development » appeared for the first time in 1980 in a IUCN report and in 1982, the World Charter for Nature was adopted by the United Nations. It embodied at the time a globally raised awareness of the challenges related to nature conservation and preservation.
In 2000, 193 Member States of the United Nations and many international organizations adopted the Millennial Development Goals (MDG) and agreed to reach them by 2015. The seventh goal describes the many actions that would allow the preservation of the environment, and thus contribute to ensure its durability.
In 2015, the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a follow-up to the MDG. They gather up 169 targets for which indicators were determined to evaluate the accomplished progresses.
If goals 14 (Sustainable oceans and seas management) and 15 (Preserving and restoring the terrestrial ecosystems) specifically target the nature conservation and preservation challenges, others significantly contribute to the same issue:
- Goal #2: « Zero Hunger » (sustainable agriculture);
- Goal #6: Sustainable management of water resources;
- Goal #7: Clean and durable energy;
- Goal #8: Durable economic growth;
- Goal #9: Sustainable industry and infrastructures;
- Goal #11: Sustainable cities and communities;
- Goal #12: Sustainable consumption and production;
- Goal #13: Combat climate change.
Plus, we firmly believe that Goal #4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning constitutes a major transformation leverage serving the purposes of nature conservation.
The necessity of raising a global consciousness regarding the urging issues
The quality of our environment is degrading in an unprecedented environmental crisis. It is an incontestable fact, as well as the human origin of this crisis.
The 2016 WWF Living Planet Report makes an alarming assessment of the number and variety of both animal and vegetal species; as well as the growing fragilization of natural ecosystems due to human activities. Those are the incontestable signs that nature, which we are a part of, is in great danger. In the end, if we do nothing, we will have to face the extinction of a growing number of species, which are indispensable to the balance and the very existence of the ecosystems. We will suffer the degradation and even the loss of the services provided by nature, that are essential to our well-being.
Today, the nature conservation actions are both institutional and contractual, both collective and individual. They answer to an international determination to curb and correct the deterioration of the ecosystems, product of intensifying human activities. Their success requires a general awareness of the issues at stakes and a deep behavioural modification in societies.
It is the major goal of the EduConservation project to make this awareness grow and encourage behaviour changes throughout youth education.