What Is Ecosystem Conservation?

Ken Black

Ecosystem conservation is a comprehensive plan that seeks to maintain all species of plants and animals in a geographic area through the management of natural resources. Whereas many types of conservation may focus on one area, such as air or water quality, conservation of an entire ecosystem takes all of it into account. This approach often requires experts in many different fields working together for the common good. While it may present a difficult challenge, ecosystem conservation can also be one of the more productive forms of resource conservation.

A forest ecosystem.
A forest ecosystem.

This type of management or conservation strategy involves specific steps being taken to help protect the ecosystem. The first is identifying the problem and searching for possible causes. After those things have been identified, then a solution is formulated. The next step is often a public education to raise awareness, garner support, and raise funds for the proposal. Most of those involved in this conservation approach attempt to secure both public and private funding. Implementation may begin only once that funding, or at least a certain percentage of it, has been secured.

Emissions from factories can be a serious environmental problem.
Emissions from factories can be a serious environmental problem.

The basic idea behind the approach of ecosystem conservation is that all systems are interrelated. While water pollution may be different than air pollution or soil contamination, they all play a role in the lives of the plants and animals in a certain ecosystem. Therefore, in order to give the living organisms in that area the best opportunity for a healthy life, they all need to be dealt with and improved as much as possible.

The ecosystem conservation method is in direct contrast to methods that focus only on a single species. In such cases, the goal to save a particular species may overlook other important factors that affect that species. Those other factors could have been responsible for the species' decline in the first place. In some cases, even restoring a species may not yield a long-term benefit without a more comprehensive approach to ecosystem management.

One typical focus of ecosystem conservation is connecting the process to the needs and values of humans. While that may seem a little self serving, those involved in this conservation approach subscribe to the belief that people are more likely to help the environment when they see a benefit. These benefits could include clean air and drinking water for people in a particular area, an increase in or preservation of outdoor recreational opportunities, and even economic benefits. All of these could play a role in the acceptance and support a management project receives. After all, humans are a part of the ecosystem too.

Water that is polluted by an oil spill.
Water that is polluted by an oil spill.

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