What Is Wildlife Conservation? | RenewMethod

Taking care of our environment through conservation work has never been more important and a cornerstone of this lies in protecting our wildlife.

Wildlife conservation is the environmental practice and study of protecting our animal species and their habitats - with the aim of mitigating harm caused by human interference and the restoration of natural ecosystems.

The practice of wildlife conservation originated in the early 20th century and has only risen in popularity since then.  We see this practice carried out all over our nation by government enforcement and environmental activists, as well as everyday people like you and me.  It’s important to remember that wildlife conservation is something that affects all of us and while ensuring the health of our environment is something that has to be done on a national and global scale to be successful, it’s the actions that we all take (big and small) that will amount to protecting our wildlife.

Since the start of the conservation movement, wildlife conservation has been practiced and encouraged by organizations such as the National Parks Service and The Wilderness Society.  In addition, private non-profit organizations such as the World Wide Fund For Nature, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and dozens of other institutions play a huge role in the protection of our wildlife.

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Practicing Wildlife Conservation

In order to successfully practice wildlife conservation in our society, we must first understand the most practical and beneficial way to impact our environment.  To do this we need to first study the local ecosystem of a given area and find a way to ensure the protection of its species through non-invasive human involvement.

The past centuries’ of rampant development, colonization, and industrialization have shown us the immediate harm being done to our wildlife and the direct correlation that human interference causes to habitats.  Unfortunately, much of the damage that has been done cannot easily be reversed and our best approach for protecting our wildlife is to learn from our mistakes, mitigate the harm we’ve created, and approach further development with a conscientious and ecological mindset.

The good news is that the trend for sustainable living is becoming more and more mainstream, which has resulted in societal growth for adopting environmental values and wildlife protection.

This has led to a global and national shift that is shaping the way our government operates in regards to our environment, as well as changing the behavior of everyday citizens towards green living.

To take you through everything you need to know about wildlife conservation, we’re going to highlight all the ways in which this environmental practice is implemented in our society and what you can do to be part of the change.

Domestic Wildlife Conservation

It’s easy to forget that the decisions we make in our day-to-day lives affect the health of our entire planet, including our wildlife.  

How we approach everything from the food that we eat to the clothes we wear will create some sort of environmental footprint.  How much of a positive or negative impact our routine decisions have on wildlife conservation will be determined by how well we adjust to sustainable living practices.

Since harm to wildlife is being caused by so many different industries, it’s important to consider which organizations you support that contribute to the loss of wildlife.  While you as a consumer are just a small link in the chain of all this, it’s the small decisions that everyday people make which amount to a major environmental impact on a national and global level.

The first thing to do is to identify which areas of your life are having a negative impact on wildlife conservation by researching the brands that you buy and the food that you eat.  You would be amazed at how much minor consumeristic changes contribute to effective wildlife conservation.

Here’s how you can practice wildlife conservation at home:

Diet

The food we eat greatly influences the health of our ecosystems and our wildlife.  One of the most practical ways to support wildlife conservation is to rethink our diet and adapt to a more plant-based intake of food.

The reason that our food affects our wildlife in such a big way is that we are forced to destroy natural habitats to create farmlands, as well as often deplete and/or pollute natural resources in the process. American’s have adopted a far more carnivorous diet in the mid-20th century, which led to massive amounts of the lands our wildlife have depended on being converted to farmlands.

This is particularly seen with the meat industry - especially cattle, as it takes over 2,000 gallons of water to produce just 1lb of beef and a vast amount of land space to maintain a cow farm.  Whereas to produce 1lb of wheat takes just 25 gallons of water and is less environmentally invasive for food production.  

We are finding that there is a polarization of water use when comparing plant-based foods vs animal products.  The best way to support wildlife conservation through your diet would be to simply avoid or eliminate animal products from your regular food intake.

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle

The most important and effective way to aid wildlife conservation is to simply refuse products that enable environmental harm. An example of some day-to-day items that cause particular harm and should be refused when presented are:

  • Plastic straws
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Non-reusable water bottles
  • Microbeads

The most important daily products you should try to avoid, when possible, are single-use plastics, which can be found practically everywhere.

If you cannot refuse a product, something as simple as reducing your intake of certain goods and natural resources can amount to monumental environmental change and will greatly contribute to the practice of wildlife conservation.  You can do this by:

  • Limiting water usage
  • Driving hybrid or eclectic vehicles
  • Using energy-efficient appliances
  • Conscientious home energy use

There are certain things in life that we simply cannot refuse, which is why reducing our usage and intake of them is our best approach for aiding wildlife conservation.

Next, we can reuse, repurpose, or recycle certain goods.  The best way to achieve this is to firstly avoid single-use items that were not designed for reuse or often even recycle.  Buying goods with the intention of longevity is a good mindset to have for protecting our wildlife.  In addition, buying products that are easily recyclable is also more efficient and beneficial.

Activism

The reason why wildlife conservation has continued to gain so much more momentum in our society is due to the work of activists that bring awareness to these environmental matters by taking stances against the industrial complex’s unethical practices.

There are many ways to get involved in wildlife conservation and the more people that do, the better the end result of our efforts.  One of the best ways to become an activist is to volunteer with an organization or community event that is battling habitat destruction.

Here are some ways that you can volunteer to be an activist for wildlife conservation:

  • Protest invasive development
  • Volunteer at state and national parks
  • Assist at a wildlife rescue center

Alternatively, if you don’t have the time or means for volunteer work, there is still plenty you can do to help protect wildlife.  One of the most common ways is to donate to organizations that you want to support.  Finding reliable and trustworthy organizations to fund promotes the expansion of wildlife conservation work and enables these institutions to operate.

These are some well established and highly regarded organizations that specialize in wildlife conservation:

  • Defenders Of Wildlife
  • World Wide Fund For Nature
  • Jane Goodall Institute
  • SeaLegacy

Finding an organization that specializes in specific types of wildlife conservation allows you the ability to directly support conservation efforts that are in line with your values and personal goals for the environment.

National Wildlife Conservation

The inherent values we build towards protecting our environment and ensuring the continuation of wildlife conservation work will influence the changes that, in the long run, will amount to the implementation of laws, reform, and accountability on a national level.  

Our society is currently undergoing a shift towards sustainable living and it is up to our government to take responsibility for carrying out the monumental changes that need to occur to ensure the preservation and continuation of wildlife conservation.

Here are some ways that wildlife conservation is practiced on a national level.

Protecting Lands

The most practical and effective way we have ensured wildlife conservation is by protecting our lands from development and by allocating designated lands to be set up as conservation lands.  When establishing lands for the sole purpose of conservation use, we eliminate the possibility of habitat destruction altogether.

The use of conservation lands is becoming quite dynamic, which entails different levels of protection for wildlife.  We can see some of the more common types of conservation lands in areas such as:

  • National Parks
  • State Parks
  • Wildlife Refuges
  • National Forests
  • National Monuments

These conservation lands are heavily enforced to ensure the protection of wildlife.  While some land areas like our national parks have the strictest conservation laws in our country, all of these land types have been designated for the purpose of wildlife conservation.

In addition, a popular way to contribute to the practice of wildlife conservation is being carried out by government agencies and non-profit trusts buying up private lands with environmental value for the purpose of converting the lands to conservation lands.  This is also being done on an individual level with private property owners converting their own lands for the purpose of donation.

To assess a given plot of land for environmental value pertaining to local wildlife, governments, trusts, and private buyers conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment on the land to determine how vital of an area it is for wildlife conservation.

We can continue protecting our lands for wildlife conservation by mitigating or eliminating practices such as deforestation, pollution, land degradation, and invasive farming.

Conscientious Development

Unfortunately, human development tends to have a major impact on negatively affecting wildlife conservation.  In the past, practically every development project has given little to no consideration for how the project will affect the livelihoods of local wildlife and ecosystems as a whole.  

While it is extremely challenging to pursue development that doesn’t leave a trace of an environmental footprint, it can, however, be greatly mitigated if approached in an ethical way.

Let’s take a look at some examples of conscientious development that encourage wildlife conservation:

  • Wildlife bridges - setting up environmentally sound wildlife bridges along highways and urban areas provides refuge and safe passage for wildlife to move around developed areas safely.
  • Responsible infrastructure - the rampant building of concrete roads and interstates has been constructed without consideration of wildlife.  Countless acres of vital habitat areas such as wetlands and forests could have been saved if simply approached in a more ethical manner.
  • Green building - whether building a home or an entire city, leaving as many green spaces as possible, as well as designing cities that encourage hybrid living spaces for wildlife greatly beneficial for retaining a part of the habitat for local species.

Pursuing responsible development projects like these will amount to being a major contribution to continuing wildlife conservation on a national level.

Policy Reform

Environmental catastrophes around our nation have resulted in countless acres of habitat destruction, resource pollution, and species decline.

Major environmental incidents have brought the importance of wildlife conservation to the attention of everyday citizens, which has resulted in an outcry from much of our population and the need for government reform and policy enforcement.

Through the work of environmental activists combined with the efforts of the United States government, we have been able to create so many laws and reforms that have shaped the way we practice wildlife conservation today.  

Let’s take a look at some of the enactments that contribute to wildlife conservation:

  • Endangered Species Act
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act
  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act
  • Wild Bird Conservation Act
  • Lacey Act

Legislations such as these are at the core of what the work of wildlife conservation has achieved.  These enactments have had a monumental impact on the preservation of habitats around the country, which have echoed in reform around the globe.

About THE AUTHOR

James Parker

James Parker

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.

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