In may of 2010, in the Estonian city of Tallinn, a group of conservationists, environmentalists and other scientists gathered to both celebrate the 100 anniversary of the first nature reserve in Estonia and to discuss the current and future state of conservation in the country and in the wider world.
The conference was jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment, the Environmental Board and the Estonian University of Life Sciences and had a few key themes:
- Successes in nature conservation so far
- The impact of climate change
- Goods and services and their relationship to conservation
- Management of ecosystems
- Conservation beyond 2010
Nature conservation is, unfortunately, becoming more and more important, with new species falling under threat of extinction (or in some extremely sad cases falling over the precipice altogether) everyday.
There are a huge number of reasons as to why our conservation efforts need to vigorously maintained. The lucrative trade in rare animals in certain parts of the world provides poachers with all the motivation they need to take the lives of species that are all ready in grave danger. Just recently the Black Rhino became classified as extinct after a long struggle to save the species, with the big price tag attached to their horn (and it’s supposed medicinal properties) playing a huge part in the demise of these amazing animals.
In other cases the danger isn’t directly from hunting but is instead posed by the destruction of habitats. The earth’s rainforests, for instance, are being destroyed in huge swathes for timber and to make space in which to allow animals to graze so that they can by reared for meat. Indeed, the economic incentive of raising livestock has been posited as possibly being one of the single biggest threats to the environment, which, when you consider the range of activities we undertake which harm the planet, is really saying something. Most of the problems regarding wildlife can be traced back to human demand for food, for fuel and for clean drinking water.
It’s not just the land and the animals that live on it that’s in peril. We are also causing big problems for the oceans which cover 70% of our planet and provide a home to the vast majority of life on earth. Three quarters of our fish stocks are now at or, indeed lower than, a level that can be sustained. This sad state of affairs is largely down to overfishing, which is very hard to prevent when you think that only 2% of the world’s oceans benefit from official protection to regulate against such problems.
A massive issue facing the globe in its entirety is that of global warming. If the climate changes significantly then every living thing on earth, humans included, will be massively affected. Changing weather patterns could change the availability of food for certain animals, leading to far reaching knock on effects for the ecosystems of which they are part, whilst higher temperatures will leave some animals literally watching their habitat melting away into the sea.
Retreating ice is already taking a heavy toll on the populations of penguins and polar bears living at their respective poles. As their habitats get smaller there is less space for predators to claim a territory and less food to go around. But the poles aren’t just important for the animals that live on them. Ice plays an incredibly important part in regulating the world’s temperatures.
As we keep seeing, unusual weather isn’t just devastating for the animal world, but can also be catastrophic for humans. In the past few years we’ve seen so called ‘freak’ weather conditions become more and more common place. We’ve seen hurricanes and typhoons causing untold destruction and high numbers of deaths all over the world.
With climate being of such vital importance to conservation one of the most important things you can do to help the world’s conservation efforts is to join in the fight against global warming. There are a wide number of things you can do to lower your carbon footprint, and everything you can do to cut down on the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt up as a result of your actions will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Something as simple as walking short journeys, or taking public transport instead of going places by car will help and will save you money too. You might use radiator reflector foil to reduce the amount of heating you need to use in the winter months, or you could make sure to insulate your home to stop wastage.
However, you go about it, it’s important to remember that conservation isn’t all about making provisions to help animals such as tigers, elephants, pandas in the battle for survival. It’s also about preserving the planet. By becoming environmentally conscious and making greener decisions wherever you can, you’ll be helping to safeguard this beautiful planet for future generations to enjoy.