The ongoing movement towards sustainable living is creating environmental awareness and is calling for the protection and conservation of our lands.
To protect and conserve our land, we must practice responsible farming, forestation, and development. In addition, we must preserve, protect, and create lands designated for conservation and continue to convert environmentally valued private properties into conservation lands.
Taking action towards protecting and conserving our lands has never been more important. The conscious shift towards green living backed by the economic and sustainable benefits of adopting ecologically sound practices has created a transitional movement towards taking care of our environment. Protecting and conserving our lands ensures that our nation and our planet will have a brighter future for generations to come.
Organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture as well as the Forestsociety are urging governments, corporations, businesses, and everyday citizens to take direct action towards combating practices that negatively affect land conservation.
Land Conservation Practices
For centuries we have been utilizing the abundant resources of our lands for economic prosperity without consideration of the long-term ecological events that these practices would result in.
It’s only in recent history that we have begun taking active measures towards bringing environmentally friendly practices into play. This has resulted in a national shift towards protecting the health of our lands so that the mistakes we’ve made in our past don’t repeat themselves in the future.
It’s important to note that protecting and conserving our lands is not a one-stop-shop and that there is no single solution to achieve this end goal. To effectively ensure the protection of our lands, we must target each factor that is negatively contributing to this environmental crisis.
Luckily, we have created programs and institutions that directly combat environmental issues and aim to protect and conserve our lands. By adopting environmentally friendly practices and teaching the values that come with them, we create a platform for land conservation to thrive.
To highlight this further, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know to ensure the protection and conservation of our lands.
It’s astounding to consider that since the colonization of the United States we have cut down as much as 75% of our nation’s trees!
The practice of deforestation has its role in economic growth and is in many ways necessary for utilizing natural resources, but the sheer scale at which it’s been implemented has resulted in us losing the majority of our forests.
Large-scale deforestation is one of the biggest contributors to improper land conservation and has led to habitat loss, soil degradation, and has negatively contributed to the climate crisis.
The best way to protect our forests and conserve our lands is to practice responsible forestation and mitigate or eliminate deforestation in our society. We can achieve this by doing the following:
- Less logging
- Plant more trees
- Reduce your use of paper
- Recycle paper products
- Support forestation organizations
- Bring awareness to the issue
Deforestation is very much an industrial issue and needs to be targeted through policy reform and legal action towards illegal logging. However, there are plenty of ways we can all get involved in responsible forestry to protect and conserve our lands.
A major contributor to land degradation in our society has come from irresponsible farming practices. This has resulted in soil infertility, which jeopardizes our primary source of food and creates irreversible damage to the nutrient value of our lands for generations.
We began feeling the harmful effects of poor farming practices when large-scale industrial farming became popularized during the 20th century. It’s during this time period that we adopted farming techniques that ensured a greater and more efficient yield but came with the price of harming the quality of the soil.
Once the damage had been done, we realized that continuing to farm in this was not a sustainable approach for growing our food and that reform and action were necessary to keep this vital resource healthy.
Farmers began implementing the following techniques to ensure the fertility of our soil stays intact:
- Crop rotation - by changing the crop rotation and not focusing on a single crop, the soil rebuilds and nourishes itself from season to season. This is an old farming practice that was as effective in the past as it is now.
- Mulching - adding a form of fertilized mulch to the soil after a harvest keeps the organic process of breaking down nutrients in the soil a constant process and prevents the degradation of our lands.
- Buffer strips - these barriers between crops are highly effective at preventing the spread of soil degradation by mitigating or eliminating potential runoff from pollution.
Ironically, one of the most effective ways to protect and conserve our lands is to adopt farming practices that we have used for as long as we’ve been growing food - organic farming! By practicing organic farming, we keep the food growing process as natural as possible, which facilitates the health of our soil and ensures the protection of our land.
As we expanded the growth of our nation and began developing large cities, we caused quite a bit of harm to our lands in the process.
The popularization of concrete in the 20th century was an easy solution to building everything from roads and highways to homes and skyscrapers. This affordable and easy solution allowed us to urbanize our nation at a rampant pace with little consideration to how it affects land conservation.
This unsustainable approach to development has brought harm to ecosystems and has greatly contributed to the degradation of our lands. While development and urbanization are unavoidable with the size of our population, there is an ethical and environmentally-friendly approach that can be taken to mitigate the harm being done to our lands.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we can protect and conserve our lands by practicing responsible development.
- Green building - buildings that were designed to fit their local environment have a significantly less footprint on the ecology of the area.
- Green infrastructure - utilizing wildlife bridges and other ethical infrastructure is a great way to prevent habitat loss and conserve our lands. In addition, simply using proper consideration of location when building infrastructure is an easy solution to lessen the harm being done to surrounding ecosystems and lands.
- Sustainable energy use - much of our lands have been spoiled due to the harm being done by oil drilling and fracking. By converting to the utilization of sustainable energy, we directly combat these environmentally harmful practices and protect our lands.
- More public parks - designating more areas within urbanized environments to be public parks that complement the nature of the land.
- More green spaces in urban environments - creating more green spaces by using less concrete and leaving more dirt in the ground with the intention of utilizing the space for plants and trees is a great way to promote hybrid green living spaces.
Our careless approach towards infrastructure and development in the past has resulted in millions of acres of land being sabotaged, which has led to habitat loss, soil degradation, and destroyed the natural beauty of much of our nation. A conscientious approach towards future development projects will be essential for protecting and conserving our lands.
Maintain Conservation Areas
One of the greatest and most effective ways to ensure the protection of our lands is to maintain the areas in our country that we have established as conservation areas.
With a nation as large as ours, it’s been easy for public lands to be sold off and privatized for development projects and urbanization. However, by doing so we taint the sanctity of our beautiful country and create great harm to our surrounding environment.
Luckily, since the rise of the conservation movement, the United States has allocated hundreds of millions of acres of land to be protected and held by state and federal governments. This is perhaps one of the most effective ways to protect and conserve our lands, as they are completely prohibited from development and have a minimal or non-existent influence by humans.
We can see the following designated lands that have been set up for protection and conservation in the United States:
- National Parks
- National Forests
- Wilderness Preserves
- National Monuments
- Strict Nature Reserve
Maintaining these conservation areas retains the integrity of our lands and prevents invasive development and human interference.
The United States is such a vast country that still has so much rural and undeveloped area within it. While many of these valued spaces are owned and protected by state and federal governments, there are plenty of private property owners that own land that has environmental value.
A practice to protect and conserve our land that has become quite popular is to convert these private lands into a conservation easement.
This is essentially an agreement between a property owner and the government to donate the land for conservation use in exchange for a tax credit. By doing so the property owner is still the rightful owner of the land but has to adhere to certain environmental guidelines and restrictions in regards to development projects.
This is a great way to shift privatized lands that have an environmental value into protected areas that will be undisturbed by further human development and urbanization. These designated lands serve as either a form of a nature reserve for habitat and wildlife protection or protect a vital natural resource such as a freshwater channel from potential pollution and obstruction.
The inherent values towards protecting our environment are still a relatively new mentality in our society that has only begun going mainstream in recent decades.
It’s through establishing a connection to nature on a personalized level that we’ve started to adopt sustainable living. To continue down this path, it’s important that we continue to educate ourselves and future generations on the importance of sustainability. Ingraining these values into our society will target the harmful elements of environmentally unsound practices at their core.
It’s through environmental education that unethical practices and harmful policies will be abolished or reformed. We can instill these values by implementing the following:
- Establishing environmental classes in schools
- Environmental youth camps and programs
- Parental guidance
At the end of the day adopting these practices into our daily lives is an investment into our future and the future of everyone on the planet.
Benefits of Protecting and Conserving Land
There are many beneficial reasons that our nation and the rest of the planet are transitioning towards protecting and conserving land.
As we continue to thrive as a society, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of protecting nature for the benefit of economic growth. This blindsided greed ends up harming our environment, which results in harm coming back to not only us but to all life on the planet.
By protecting and conserving our lands, we can be part of the natural world instead of fighting against it. This results in the following mutual benefits for ourselves and our environment.
- Habitat protection - when we protect our lands, we are essentially protecting the homes of countless species and allowing them to live and exist without the threat that unsustainable human development brings. This allows for the ecosystem to thrive and for the undisturbed circle of life of the organisms to continue.
- Fighting climate change - by tearing down trees and destroying natural landscapes we are perpetuating the harmful effects of climate change on our planet. These green spaces are mitigating the carbon crisis and reducing our global carbon footprint in the fight against climate change.
- Air & water quality - sustainable farming and forestation contribute to the quality of our air and the purification of our drinking water.
- Outdoor recreation - the lands we’ve designated for conservation use often provide us with one of our favorite pastimes - a retreat into nature. By establishing more conservation areas and utilizing the ones we already have, we can be assured that having nature in our lives is constant and accessible.
- Natural aesthetic - if there’s one thing that nature reminds us of whenever we come in contact with it, it’s that we have a close connection with the natural world. By keeping more of our lands protected, the beauty of nature is something that is constantly around us - instead of being an out-of-reach venture or escape.
Adapting to sustainable practices that protect and conserve our lands will ensure the health of our planet and will ultimately benefit every living organism that we share it with.
About THE AUTHOR
James Parker has a Masters degree in Sustainability with a focus on land management, permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He also has experience managing sustainability projects, and is passionate about conservation and sustainability.Read More About James Parker