What is conservation?
Conservation involves the maintenance of biodiversity, including diversity between species, genetic diversity within species, and maintenance of a variety of habitats and ecosystems.
Human threat on biodiversity
An increasing human population poses a threat to the maintenance of biodiversity through:
- over-exploitation of wild populations for food, sport and commerce. This leads to species being harvested more quickly than they can reproduce.
- habitat disruption and fragmentation. This can result from intensive agricultural techniques, increased pollution or widespread building.
- new species being introduce to an ecosystem. These can out-compete native species.
Why is conservation important - ethics
Some people believe that every species has value in its own right, irrespective of its value to humans;
- every species has the right to survive
- humans have an ethical responsibility to look after them
The arguments against this approach are economic. For example, burning fossil fuel has negative consequences on the environment but is economically essential.
Why is conservation important - economic reasons
Many species have a direct economical value when harvested
- valuable food source
- collection of drugs e.g. aspirin from willow
- natural predators or pests can act as biological control agents
Many species have an indirect economical value when harvested
- wild insects are responsible for pollinating crops
- some communities preserve water quality, protect soil and break down waste products
- Ecotourism has financial value, drawn from the aesthetic value of living things. It depends on biodiversity.
Preservation is important in protecting areas of land, as yet unused by humans, in their untouched form.