Conservation movement


The conservation movement, also known as nature
conservation, is a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect
natural resources including animal, fungus, and plant species as well as their habitat
for the future. The early conservation movement included fisheries
and wildlife management, water, soil conservation and sustainable forestry. The contemporary
conservation movement has broadened from the early movement’s emphasis on use of sustainable
yield of natural resources and preservation of wilderness areas to include preservation
of biodiversity. Some say the conservation movement is part of the broader and more far-reaching
environmental movement, while others argue that they differ both in ideology and practice.
Chiefly in the United States, conservation is seen as differing from environmentalism
in that it aims to preserve natural resources expressly for their continued sustainable
use by humans. In other parts of the world conservation is used more broadly to include
the setting aside of natural areas and the active protection of wildlife for their inherent
value, as much as for any value they may have for humans. History Early history The conservation movement can be traced back
to John Evelyn’s work Sylva, presented as a paper to the Royal Society in 1662. Published
as a book two years later, it was one of the most highly influential texts on forestry
ever published. Timber resources in England were becoming dangerously depleted at the
time, and Evelyn advocated the importance of conserving the forests by managing the
rate of depletion and ensuring that the cut down trees get replenished.
The field developed during the 18th century, especially in Prussia and France where scientific
forestry methods were developed. These methods were first applied rigorously in British India
from the early-19th century. The government was interested in the use of forest produce
and began managing the forests with measures to reduce the risk of wildfire in order to
protect the “house-hold” of nature, as it was then termed. This early ecological idea
was in order to preserve the growth of delicate teak trees, which was an important resource
for the Royal Navy. Concerns over teak depletion were raised as early as 1799 and 1805 when
the Navy was undergoing a massive expansion during the Napoleonic Wars; this pressure
led to the first formal conservation Act, which prohibited the felling of small teak
trees. The first forestry officer was appointed in 1806 to regulate and preserve the trees
necessary for shipbuilding. This promising start received a setback in the 1820s and
30s, when laissez-faire economics and complaints from private landowners brought these early
conservation attempts to an end. Origins of the modern conservation movement
Conservation was revived in the mid-19th century, with the first practical application of scientific
conservation principles to the forests of India. The conservation ethic that began to
evolve included three core principles: that human activity damaged the environment, that
there was a civic duty to maintain the environment for future generations, and that scientific,
empirically based methods should be applied to ensure this duty was carried out. Sir James
Ranald Martin was prominent in promoting this ideology, publishing many medico-topographical
reports that demonstrated the scale of damage wrought through large-scale deforestation
and desiccation, and lobbying extensively for the institutionalization of forest conservation
activities in British India through the establishment of Forest Departments.. Edward Percy Stebbing
warned of desertification of India. The Madras Board of Revenue started local conservation
efforts in 1842, headed by Alexander Gibson, a professional botanist who systematically
adopted a forest conservation program based on scientific principles. This was the first
case of state management of forests in the world.
These local attempts gradually received more attention by the British government as the
unregulated felling of trees continued unabated. In 1850, the British Association in Edinburgh
formed a committee to study forest destruction at the behest of Dr. Hugh Cleghorn a pioneer
in the nascent conservation movement. He had become interested in forest conservation
in Mysore in 1847 and gave several lectures at the Association on the failure of agriculture
in India. These lectures influenced the government under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie to introduce
the first permanent and large-scale forest conservation program in the world in 1855,
a model that soon spread to other colonies, as well the United States. In the same year,
Cleghorn organised the Madras Forest Department and in 1860 the Department banned the use
shifting cultivation. Cleghorn’s 1861 manual, The forests and gardens of South India, became
the definitive work on the subject and was widely used by forest assistants in the subcontinent.
In 1861, the Forest Department extended its remit into the Punjab. Sir Dietrich Brandis, a German forester, joined
the British service in 1856 as superintendent of the teak forests of Pegu division in eastern
Burma. During that time Burma’s teak forests were controlled by militant Karen tribals.
He introduced the “taungya” system, in which Karen villagers provided labour for clearing,
planting and weeding teak plantations. After seven years in Burma, Brandis was appointed
Inspector General of Forests in India, a position he served in for 20 years. He formulated new
forest legislation and helped establish research and training institutions. The Imperial Forest
School at Dehradun was founded by him. Germans were prominent in the forestry administration
of British India. As well as Brandis, Berthold Ribbentrop and Sir William P.D. Schlich brought
new methods to Indian conservation, the latter becoming the Inspector-General in 1883 after
Brandis stepped down. Schlich helped to establish the journal Indian Forester in 1874, and became
the founding director of the first forestry school in England at Cooper’s Hill in 1885.
He authored the five-volume Manual of Forestry on silviculture, forest management, forest
protection, and forest utilisation, which became the standard and enduring textbook
for forestry students. Conservation in the United States The American movement received its inspiration
from 19th century works that exalted the inherent value of nature, quite apart from human usage.
Author Henry David Thoreau made key philosophical contributions that exalted nature. Thoreau
was interested in peoples’ relationship with nature and studied this by living close to
nature in a simple life. He published his experiences in the book Walden, which argued
that people should become intimately close with nature. The ideas of Sir Brandis, Sir
William P.D. Schlich and Carl A. Schenck were also very influential – Gifford Pinchot, the
first chief of the USDA Forest Service, relied heavily upon Brandis’ advice for introducing
professional forest management in the U.S. and on how to structure the Forest Service.
Both Conservationists and Preservationists appeared in political debates during the Progressive
Era in the early 20th century. There were three main positions. The laissez-faire position
held that owners of private property—including lumber and mining companies, should be allowed
to do anything they wished for their property. The conservationists, led by future President
Theodore Roosevelt and his close ally George Bird Grinnell, were motivated by the wanton
waste that was taking place at the hand of market hunting. This practice resulted in
placing a large number of North American game species on the edge of extinction. Roosevelt
recognized that the laissez-faire approach of the U.S. Government was too wasteful and
inefficient. In any case, they noted, most of the natural resources in the western states
were already owned by the federal government. The best course of action, they argued, was
a long-term plan devised by national experts to maximize the long-term economic benefits
of natural resources. To accomplish the mission, Roosevelt and Grinnell formed the Boone and
Crockett Club in 1887. The Club was made up of the best minds and influential men of the
day. The Boone and Crockett Club’s contingency of conservationists, scientists, politicians,
and intellectuals became Roosevelt’s closest advisers during his march to preserve wildlife
and habitat across North America. Environmentalists, led by John Muir, preached that nature was
sacred and humans are intruders who should look but not develop. He founded the Sierra
Club and was primarily responsible for defining the environmentalist position, in the debate
between Conservation and environmentalism. Environmentalism preached that nature was
almost sacred, and that man was an intruder. It allowed for limited tourism, but opposed
automobiles in national parks. It strenuously opposed timber cutting on most public lands,
and vehemently denounced the dams that Roosevelt supported for water supplies, electricity
and flood control. Especially controversial was the Hetch Hetchy dam in Yosemite National
Park, which Roosevelt approved, and which supplies the water supply of San Francisco.
President Roosevelt put conservationist issue high on the national agenda. He worked with
all the major figures of the movement, especially his chief advisor on the matter, Gifford Pinchot
and was deeply committed to conserving natural resources. He encouraged the Newlands Reclamation
Act of 1902 to promote federal construction of dams to irrigate small farms and placed
230 million acres under federal protection. Roosevelt set aside more Federal land for
national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined. Roosevelt established the United States Forest
Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the year 1906 Antiquities
Act, under which he proclaimed 18 new U.S. National Monuments. He also established the
first 51 Bird Reserves, four Game Preserves, and 150 National Forests, including Shoshone
National Forest, the nation’s first. The area of the United States that he placed under
public protection totals approximately 230,000,000 acres.
Gifford Pinchot had been appointed by McKinley as chief of Division of Forestry in the Department
of Agriculture. In 1905, his department gained control of the national forest reserves. Pinchot
promoted private use under federal supervision. In 1907, Roosevelt designated 16 million acres
of new national forests just minutes before a deadline.
In May 1908, Roosevelt sponsored the Conference of Governors held in the White House, with
a focus on natural resources and their most efficient use. Roosevelt delivered the opening
address: “Conservation as a National Duty.”. In 1903 Roosevelt toured the Yosemite Valley
with John Muir, who had a very different view of conservation, and tried to minimize commercial
use of water resources and forests. Working through the Sierra Club he founded, Muir succeeded
in 1905 in having Congress transfer the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley to the Federal Government.
While Muir wanted nature preserved for its own sake, Roosevelt subscribed to Pinchot’s
formulation, “to make the forest produce the largest amount of whatever crop or service
will be most useful, and keep on producing it for generation after generation of men
and trees.” Theodore Roosevelt’s view on conservationism
remained dominant for decades; – Franklin D. Roosevelt authorised the building of many
large-scale dams and water projects, as well as the expansion of the National Forest System
to buy out sub-marginal farms. In 1937, the Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife
Restoration Act was signed into law, providing funding for state agencies to carry out their
conservation efforts. Since 1970
Environmental issues reemerged on the national agenda in 1970, with Republican Richard Nixon
playing a major role, especially with his creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The debates over the public lands and environmental politics played a supporting role in the decline
of liberalism and the rise of modern environmentalism. Although Americans consistently rank environmental
issues as “important”, polling data indicates that in the voting booth voters rank the environmental
issues low relative to other political concerns. The growth of the Republican party’s political
power in the inland West was facilitated by the rise of popular opposition to public lands
reform. Successful Democrats in the inland West and Alaska typically take more conservative
positions on environmental issues than Democrats from the Coastal states. Conservatives drew
on new organizational networks of think tanks, industry groups, and citizen-oriented organizations,
and they began to deploy new strategies that affirmed the rights of individuals to their
property, protection of extraction rights, to hunt and recreate, and to pursue happiness
unencumbered by the federal government at the expense of resource conservation.
Areas of concern Deforestation and overpopulation are issues
affecting all regions of the world. The consequent destruction of wildlife habitat has prompted
the creation of conservation groups in other countries, some founded by local hunters who
have witnessed declining wildlife populations first hand. Also, it was highly important
for the conservation movement to solve problems of living conditions in the cities and the
overpopulation of such places. Boreal forest and the Arctic
The idea of incentive conservation is a modern one but its practice has clearly defended
some of the sub Arctic wildernesses and the wildlife in those regions for thousands of
years, especially by indigenous peoples such as the Evenk, Yakut, Sami, Inuit and Cree.
The fur trade and hunting by these peoples have preserved these regions for thousands
of years. Ironically, the pressure now upon them comes from non-renewable resources such
as oil, sometimes to make synthetic clothing which is advocated as a humane substitute
for fur. Similarly, in the case of the beaver, hunting and fur trade were thought to bring
about the animal’s demise, when in fact they were an integral part of its conservation.
For many years children’s books stated and still do, that the decline in the beaver population
was due to the fur trade. In reality however, the decline in beaver numbers was because
of habitat destruction and deforestation, as well as its continued persecution as a
pest. In Cree lands however, where the population valued the animal for meat and fur, it continued
to thrive. The Inuit defend their relationship with the seal in response to outside critics.
Latin America The Izoceño-Guaraní of Santa Cruz Department,
Bolivia is a tribe of hunters who were influential in establishing the Capitania del Alto y Bajo
Isoso. CABI promotes economic growth and survival of the Izoceno people while discouraging the
rapid destruction of habitat within Bolivia’s Gran Chaco. They are responsible for the creation
of the 34,000 square kilometre Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management
Area. The KINP protects the most biodiverse portion of the Gran Chaco, an ecoregion shared
with Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. In 1996, the Wildlife Conservation Society joined forces
with CABI to institute wildlife and hunting monitoring programs in 23 Izoceño communities.
The partnership combines traditional beliefs and local knowledge with the political and
administrative tools needed to effectively manage habitats. The programs rely solely
on voluntary participation by local hunters who perform self-monitoring techniques and
keep records of their hunts. The information obtained by the hunters participating in the
program has provided CABI with important data required to make educated decisions about
the use of the land. Hunters have been willing participants in this program because of pride
in their traditional activities, encouragement by their communities and expectations of benefits
to the area. Africa
In order to discourage illegal South African hunting parties and ensure future local use
and sustainability, indigenous hunters in Botswana began lobbying for and implementing
conservation practices in the 1960s. The Fauna Preservation Society of Ngamiland was formed
in 1962 by the husband and wife team: Robert Kay and June Kay, environmentalists working
in conjunction with the Batawana tribes to preserve wildlife habitat.
The FPS promotes habitat conservation and provides local education for preservation
of wildlife. Conservation initiatives were met with strong opposition from the Botswana
government because of the monies tied to big-game hunting. In 1963, BaTawanga Chiefs and tribal
hunter/adventurers in conjunction with the FPS founded Moremi National Park and Wildlife
Refuge, the first area to be set aside by tribal people rather than governmental forces.
Moremi National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including lions, giraffes, elephants,
buffalo, zebra, cheetahs and antelope, and covers an area of 3,000 square kilometers.
Most of the groups involved with establishing this protected land were involved with hunting
and were motivated by their personal observations of declining wildlife and habitat.
See also Notes Further reading
Regional studies Africa
Adams, Jonathan S.; McShane, Thomas O. Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation without Illusion
266p; covers 1900 to 1980s Anderson, David; Grove, Richard. Conservation
in Africa: People, Policies & Practice, 355pp Bolaane, Maitseo. “Chiefs, Hunters & Adventurers:
The Foundation of the Okavango/Moremi National Park, Botswana”. Journal of Historical Geography.
31.2: 241-259. Carruthers, Jane. “Africa: Histories, Ecologies,
and Societies,” Environment and History, 10, pp. 379–406;
Showers, Kate B. Imperial Gullies: Soil Erosion and Conservation in Lesotho 346pp
Asia Economy, Elizabeth. The River Runs Black:
The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future Elvin, Mark. The Retreat of the Elephants:
An Environmental History of China Grove, Richard H.; Damodaran, Vinita jain;
Sangwan, Satpal. Nature and the Orient: The Environmental History of South and Southeast
Asia 1036pp Johnson, Erik W., Saito, Yoshitaka, and Nishikido,
Makoto. “Organizational Demography of Japanese Environmentalism,” Sociological Inquiry, Nov
2009, Vol. 79 Issue 4, pp 481–504 Thapar, Valmik. Land of the Tiger: A Natural
History of the Indian Subcontinent 288pp Latin America
Dean, Warren. With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic
Forest Funes Monzote, Reinaldo. From Rainforest to
Cane Field in Cuba: An Environmental History since 1492
Melville, Elinor G. K. A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest
of Mexico Miller, Shawn William. An Environmental History
of Latin America Noss, Andrew and Imke Oetting. “Hunter Self-Monitoring
by the Izoceño -Guarani in the Bolivian Chaco”. Biodiversity & Conservation. 14.11: 2679-2693.
Simonian, Lane. Defending the Land of the Jaguar: A History of Conservation in Mexico
326pp Europe and Russia
Arnone Sipari, Lorenzo, Scritti scelti di Erminio Sipari sul Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo,
360pp. Bonhomme, Brian. Forests, Peasants and Revolutionaries:
Forest Conservation & Organization in Soviet Russia, 1917-1929 252pp.
Cioc, Mark. The Rhine: An Eco-Biography, 1815-2000. Simmons, I.G. An Environmental History of
Great Britain: From 10,000 Years Ago to the Present.
Weiner, Douglas R. Models of Nature: Ecology, Conservation and Cultural Revolution in Soviet
Russia 324pp; covers 1917 to 1939. United States
Bates, J. Leonard. “Fulfilling American Democracy: The Conservation Movement, 1907 to 1921”,
The Mississippi Valley Historical Review,, 44#1 pp. 29–57. in JSTOR
Brinkley, Douglas G. The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America,
excerpt and text search Cawley, R. McGreggor. Federal Land, Western
Anger: The Sagebrush Rebellion and Environmental Politics, on conservatives
Flippen, J. Brooks. Nixon and the Environment. Hays, Samuel P. Beauty, Health, and Permanence:
Environmental Politics in the United States, 1955–1985, the standard scholarly history
Hays, Samuel P. A History of Environmental Politics since 1945, shorter standard history Hays, Samuel P. Conservation and the Gospel
of Efficiency, on Progressive Era. King, Judson. The Conservation Fight, From
Theodore Roosevelt to the Tennessee Valley Authority
Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind,, the standard intellectual history
 Pinchot, Gifford. “Conservation Policy”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 
Rothmun, Hal K. The Greening of a Nation? Environmentalism in the United States since
1945 Scheffer, Victor B. The Shaping of Environmentalism
in America. Sellers, Christopher. Crabgrass Crucible:
Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America
Strong, Douglas H. Dreamers & Defenders: American Conservationists. online edition, good biographical
studies of the major leaders Turner, James Morton, “The Specter of Environmentalism”:
Wilderness, Environmental Politics, and the Evolution of the New Right. The Journal of
American History 96.1: 123-47 online at History Cooperative
World Barton, Gregory A. Empire, Forestry and the
Origins of Environmentalism,, covers British Empire
Bolton, Geoffrey. Spoils and Spoilers: Australians Make Their Environment, 1788-1980 197pp
Clover, Charles. The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what
we eat. Ebury Press, London. ISBN 0-09-189780-7 Jones, Eric L. “The History of Natural Resource
Exploitation in the Western World,” Research in Economic History, 1991 Supplement 6, pp
235–252 McNeill, John R. Something New Under the Sun:
An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century,
Historiography Cioc, Mark, Björn-Ola Linnér, and Matt Osborn,
“Environmental History Writing in Northern Europe,” Environmental History, 5, pp. 396–406
Bess, Michael, Mark Cioc, and James Sievert, “Environmental History Writing in Southern
Europe,” Environmental History, 5, pp. 545–56; Coates, Peter. “Emerging from the Wilderness:
Recent Environmental History in the United States and the Rest of the Americas,” Environment
and History, 10, pp. 407–38 Hay, Peter. Main Currents in Western Environmental
Thought, standard scholarly history excerpt and text search
McNeill, John R. “Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History,” History
and Theory, 42, pp. 5–43. Robin, Libby, and Tom Griffiths, “Environmental
History in Australasia,” Environment and History, 10, pp. 439–74
Worster, Donald, ed. The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History
External links A history of conservation in New Zealand
For Future Generations, a Canadian documentary on conservation and national parks

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