The natural world, as we know it, would not be the same without the environmental practice of preservation.
The primary emphasis of preservation is to leave nature in a completely untouched state from human development and interference. If nature has been affected by human impact, then the goal of preservation is to mitigate, eliminate, or reverse the environmental damage that has occurred.
We see the environmental practice of preservation making a major positive impact on the natural world all over our planet. This concept has helped create change in government legislature, industrial practices, and individual actions taken by everyday people to help preserve and protect nature. By doing so we have been able to combat the destruction of our global environment and shift human values. With that being said, the fight to preserve our environment is still ongoing, which is why continuing to adopt and instill preservation will be essential for protecting our planet for generations to come. Let’s explore the emphasis on preservation further.
Environmental preservation is enforced by global and national governments, as well as various environmental activist organizations. In addition, preservation is practiced at home by private individuals who adhere to environmental values and protocols.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, we began to see a change in how people viewed their local environment and the natural world. Around this time environmental activism and the Conservation Movement were brought into existence and for the first time in history government legislation was created to give absolute protection to the environment.
This led to the original concept of preservation, which valued giving complete protection of the environment from human destruction and development. This was a rather radical ideology at the time, as it was not something many had considered before and was also met with severe backlash by various industries that depend on the environment being heavily unregulated.
Nonetheless, pioneers like John Muir fought hard to ensure that legislation was passed and the environmental values began to take root in human culture. These environmental pioneers started a movement that is still continuing to this day and it is thanks to their work that much of our lands fall under complete protection through preservation.
We can see lands that emphasize preservation principles all over the nation, which are the most protected natural areas of the United States. With that being said, there are, unfortunately, many instances where preservation is challenged - and at times environmental disasters occur. These situations call for preservational procedures, which aim to remedy the harm that was caused directly or indirectly by human impact. Here are the values and procedures that preservation emphasizes.
The primary emphasis of all preservation is to protect our natural environment to the highest degree. This means that we leave nature undisturbed, unchanged, and unimpacted by human activity.
However, achieving complete environmental preservation is easier said than done, as we have found that humans have a habit of not only affecting nature directly but indirectly as well.
To truly follow preservation guidelines, it actually pays off to know as much about our environment as possible so that we are able to find the most efficient and impactful to ensure ecological protection.
We do this by studying the natural world to learn how humans affect its condition so that harm can be either mitigated or completely eliminated. Let’s explore some of the ways that we practice environmental preservation in our society.
The best approach to preservation is to simply leave nature as it is. This environmental approach is at the heart of preservation values and is the first procedure to truly protect and preserve nature.
This means that we must allocate certain areas around our nation and the planet to be completely free of any kind of human impact and interference. By doing so, we let nature run its course so that the natural law and order of nature can govern itself.
Through this process nature still undergoes periods of destruction; we will continue to see forest fires, floods, habitat destruction, and even species extinction. The important aspect of preservation is that nature is allowed to determine its own fate instead of allowing humans to dictate it.
The best way that we have found to ensure the practice of preservation is to establish protected lands that emphasize the complete preservation of the environment. Here are some examples of protected areas that fall under preservation:
National & State Parks
There is no place in the United States that falls under more strict preservation guidelines and values than our nation’s national and state parks. In fact, it was during the rise of the preservation and conservation ideologies of the early 20th century that gave way to the creation of the National Park service.
Our national and state parks are highly regulated and protected by the federal government. These parks can be found all over the country and have been left untouched by any negative human impact since they were brought into the National Park Service.
With that being said, these natural areas are technically open for public lands and established for outdoor recreation. It’s thanks to preservation that we are able to have nature be such an accessible part of all of our lives.
What visitors to national parks should note is that there are regulations in place on these lands that fall under very strict environmental guidelines that all people need to adhere to. Violating these regulations can pose to be a major threat to the ecology and the natural aesthetic of the park, which can result in legal action.
The United States is a massive country that is teeming with nature and biodiversity. This makes our nation a highly valued environmental location that is worthy of protection through preservation.
While there are a lot of protected lands that fall under strict government oversight such as our national and state parks, there are a lot of lands that are simply classified as wilderness areas, which fall under environmental preservation.
We have millions of acres of untouched beautiful wilderness that have been preserved in their natural state for centuries. The natural areas are not always classified as official parks but tend to have just as much environmental significance as some of our nation’s most pristine natural areas.
You can find a lot of these beautiful wilderness areas on the side of the highways as you pass through certain states or you can find them in places that have been classified as Wilderness Reserves.
Since the 1980s an environmental strategy for protecting lands has been to develop conservation easements. This is a process of converting various properties that are acquired by either a land trust or a private individual to turn a public or private property into conservation land.
This is generally done by individuals and organizations that are passionate about the environment are have decided to take protection into their own hands by acquiring real estate that is limited in development rights. This means that once a property has been converted into a conservation easement it is permanently protected under the environmental guidelines of the easement.
With that being said, not all conservation easements fall under strict preservation guidelines. There are many conservation easements set up as private properties or even farmland, which may vary in their level of environmental protection.
However, it’s very common for conservation easements to have complete compliance with preservation guidelines in mind. This is often the case when a plot of land that has been established as an easement has significant environmental qualities that are deemed highly valuable for ecological protection.
Wildlife and Habitat
After having tamed the majority of the Western United States during the early 20th century, we found that a lot of our nation’s natural habitats and species were being put at risk through human development and industrialization.
This led to countless species going extinct and endangered; at one point even or nation’s mascot - The Bald Eagle. This troubling notion led many preservationists to emphasize the importance of protecting our wildlife and the habitat they depend on.
This led to a new form of scientific study known as environmental science, which encompasses learning about ecology and the influence that humans have on the natural world. Through this scientific practice, we have been able to gain knowledge on the best ways to carry out preservation in our surrounding environment so that we can ensure the protection of wildlife and their essential habitats.
Since the beginning of the Preservation Movement, we have been able to protect countless species from harm and extinction - and in many cases, we have been able to reverse the negative impact that we have had.
Our dependency and consumption of natural resources is the biggest threat to preserving our environment. This is a particularly challenging aspect of adhering to preservation guidelines due to the fact that our planet’s natural resources enable our way of life and often are essential for our survival.
With that being said, there are some natural resources that we will always depend on and simply cannot live without such as water and soil. The best way to emphasize a preservationist mindset in utilizing such resources is to do so with as minimal of an environmental impact as possible. This can be achieved by practicing ecologically sound farming techniques and eliminating pollution and waste that may enter our freshwater channels.
However, there are many natural resources which we use in our society that can be changed to fit preservation guidelines. The biggest threats are non-renewable energy resources such as oil and natural gas. Harvesting these resources is the antithesis of preservation and has led to more environmental destruction than just about any other human activity.
The best way to combat this is to fill our energy needs with more environmentally sound resources such as renewable resources. A recent boom in technology has made utilizing solar and wind energy far more environmentally beneficial. So long as we are harvesting these renewable energy resources in a way that causes minimal to no harm to our environment - it will be in line with the goals that preservation emphasizes.
The primary emphasis of all environmental preservation is to leave nature completely untouched, which is always the first procedural approach. This is achieved by following the above-mentioned practices and approaches.
However, there are, unfortunately, many instances where achieving complete environmental preservation is either an impossibility or is too impractical. This occurs when humans are dependant on a natural resource that will cause unavoidable environmental damage or when mistakes are made by people which results in environmental harm being done.
In these situations, preservationists emphasize some procedures which can help remedy or reverse the damage that has occurred. Let’s explore the procedures & guidelines of environmental preservation.
Given that we are so dependant on the environment for our own survival, a certain level of environmental damage is often unavoidable. In this situation, the best way to approach the matter is to mitigate the amount of harm being done.
The level of mitigation can greatly determine the overall human impact on the environment, which can preserve a lot of the ecological and aesthetic qualities of an area. Here are some ways that we mitigate human impact on the environment:
- Green Building - by approaching development in a way that leaves as little of a human footprint as possible we are able to mitigate the level of energy we use and also create hybrid living areas that can coexist with nature.
- Conscientious Infrastructure - our infrastructure can be highly invasive for the environment, which is why simply taking a more calculated and conscientious approach towards how we position our infrastructure can prove to be highly beneficial. In addition, developing green infrastructure such as wildlife bridges is becoming ever more popular.
With that being said, the most important way we can mitigate our environmental footprint is to limit how many resources we use in our lives. This means limiting our at-home water usage, driving more energy-efficient vehicles, and eliminating single-use waste products.
There are times were human environmental impact reaches a point of ecological catastrophe. In this situation, the best that we can do is implement strategies that focus on environmental remediation.
This is achieved by utilizing methods for a given area that are not going to create further damage and will (over time) begin to reverse the damage that has been created.
We can commonly see this approach being taken in natural areas that have undergone severe environmental damage such as oil spills.
A common practice that has had great results for environmental preservation is to restore natural areas to their previous undamaged state.
This approach needs to be taken with careful consideration so that no further harm is done in the process, but also so that the local ecology of the area is restored as efficiently as possible.
We generally see this occur in areas that have been stripped of natural resources such as timber. By rehabilitating forests and other natural areas, we are able to restore the habitat that was once there and through that the species and wildlife that depend on it.
Successful restoration projects have proven to be highly effective in returning a natural area back to preserved and protected state.
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