Preservation of the world’s natural resources is a worthy ideal, but personally, I am more in favour of conservation. I value the responsible management of wildlife and their environment, including promoting biodiversity and ensuring access to the natural wonders of our world for sport and recreation.
Both preservation and conservation seek to protect our natural resources—land, water, clean air, minerals, plants, and wildlife but through different strategies. What is the difference? Starting with a dictionary definition, preservation can be defined as “the activity or process of keeping something valued alive, intact, or free from damage or decay.” (1) Preservation as a concept is often applied to historical and cultural resources rather than natural resources such as wildlife and the environment.
Conservation, on the other hand, is defined as “a careful preservation and protection of something, especially planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.” (2)
Conservationists encourage sustainable practices so that humans can enjoy the resources today and tomorrow. Sustainable practices are those that curtail the overuse or unnecessary use of natural resources.
Conservationists also are often people who hunt and fish, who support conservation by purchasing the right to hunt and fish certain wildlife species under specific and managed conditions. Conservationists who hunt or fish also contribute to the economy. They make retail purchases of equipment, supplies, and materials that include clothing, footwear, guns and ammunition, fishing gear, boats, tents, and camping provisions. They pay for services such as travel planners, guides, transportation, and accommodation.
Both camps are keenly aware of how natural resources have been exploited by human mismanagement beyond reasonable limits, and still are—in some countries, by some industries. Conservation funds go towards mitigating these excesses and putting in place policies and practices to prevent overuse and exhaustion of the world’s natural resources.
Promoting conservation honours the people who learned to live off the land for eons. The knowledge and skills needed to hunt, fish, shoot, and trap could disappear if not valued enough to be taught, and practiced.
Responsible conservation recognizes the need to manage resources and protect environmentally-sensitive areas and animals in danger of extinction. Protected areas can lead to the re-establishment of endangered species, biodiversity, and ecosystems. This strategy makes our natural resources available to enjoy, experience, and educate, both for us, today, and for future generations to come.
1 “Preservation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preservation. Accessed 12 Feb. 2021.
2 “Conservation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservation. Accessed 12 Feb. 2021.