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Conservation studies encompass a wide range of classes and learning opportunities, but it all comes back to the central idea behind conservation, which is sustainable use of natural resources. Theoretically, using resources sustainably is not just beneficial to humans, but helps to preserve biodiversity and protect resources and land for the future. Natural resource management is one common aspect of conservation studies; ecology and biology are significant areas as well. Land-use planning and public resource management, such as managing protected parks and state forests, might also be a part of programs in conservation.
Most programs in conservation studies begin with a history of the environmental movements, their central figures, and their philosophies. Depending on the course of study that is being pursued, courses in environmental law and policy are common as well. These typically include information on administrative law, such as those laws that protect water and air on a national or international scale, as well as local environmental policies such as land-use decisions and zoning. It is good for anyone working in conservation to have a background in these topics, because they will likely appear again and again.
Natural resource management is often one of the biggest aspects of conservation studies. Forestry is one of the most common examples of natural resource management, though there are others. This often goes hand in hand with ecological and biological studies that determine the components of ecosystems and how these various components need to work together. For example, it's not possible to manage a forest for biodiversity if the forester does not understand the complex interactions between organisms, such as the flora and fauna that call the region home, and what impact certain actions could have; everything is interconnected.
Conservation studies may be focused on energy use as well. The importance of developing pragmatic solutions for renewable energy is recognized by many to slow or reverse climate change, so many conservationists focus on this in their work. This can include working to develop new ideas for solar, wind, or hydroelectric power, as well as understanding how geothermal and biomass power can be used.
There are a number of different career paths for people interested in working in conservation. Schools around the world offer programs in conservation studies, many with specific tracks to allow individuals to begin planning their careers as early as possible. For those wanting to protect the land and water of the planet, and help to address climate change, conservation studies can be a good place to begin.
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