Conservation movement

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Not to be confused with Conservatism.
For specific types of conservation, see Conservation (disambiguation).
Much attention has been given to preserving the natural characteristics of Hopetoun Falls, Australia, while allowing ample access for visitors.

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.[1] 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[edit]

Early history[edit]

Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty's Dominions, title page of the first edition (1664).

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.[2] 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.[3] 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[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] In 1861, the Forest Department extended its remit into the Punjab.[8]

Schlich, in the middle of the seated row, with students from the forestry school at Oxford, on a visit to the forests of Saxony in the year 1892.

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,[9] 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.[10][11]

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.[12] He authored the five-volume Manual of Forestry (1889–96) on silviculture, forest management, forest protection, and forest utilisation, which became the standard and enduring textbook for forestry students.

Conservation in the United States[edit]

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 (1817-1862) 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.[13][14]

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.[15]

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.[16] Environmentalists, led by John Muir (1838–1914), 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 (such as hiking), 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.[17] 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 (360,000 mi² or 930,000 km²) under federal protection. Roosevelt set aside more Federal land for national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined.[18]

Roosevelt was a leader in Conservation, fighting to end the waste of natural resources

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 (930,000 km2).

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 (for a fee) under federal supervision. In 1907, Roosevelt designated 16 million acres (65,000 km²) of new national forests just minutes before a deadline.[19]

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.[20] 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."[21]

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[edit]

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 (apart from the Pacific coast) 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.[22]

Areas of concern[edit]

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[edit]

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. (See Raccoon Dog for case study of the conservation of an animal through fur trade.) 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 (it causes flooding). 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.[23]

Latin America (Bolivia)[edit]

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). 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 (KINP). 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 (Botswana)[edit]

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 (FPS) 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[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gifford, John C. (1945). Living by the Land. Coral Gables, Floridacuu du uduruvrrv5vuvru44udu44: Glade House. p. 8. ASIN B0006EUXGQ. 
  2. ^ John Evelyn, Sylva, Or A Discourse of Forest Trees ... with an Essay on the Life and Works of the Author by John Nisbet, Fourth Edition (1706), reprinted London: Doubleday & Co., 1908, V1, p. lxv; online edn, March 2007 [1], accessed 29 Dec 2012. This source (John Nisbet) states: "There can be no doubt that John Evelyn, both during his own lifetime and throughout the two centuries which have elapsed since his death in 1706, has exerted more individual influence, through hisysyyysdxc charming Sylva, ... than can be ascribed to any other individual." Nisbet adds that "Evelyn was by no means the first [author] who wrote on [forestry]. That honour belongs to Master Fitzherbert, whose Boke of Husbandrie was published in 1534" (V1, p. lxvi).
  3. ^ "History of forests in India". 
  4. ^ Stebbing, E.P (1922)The forests of India vol. 1, pp. 72-81
  5. ^ Greg Barton (2002). Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism. Cambridge University Press. p. 48. 
  6. ^ MUTHIAH, S. (Nov 5, 2007). "A life for forestry". Metro Plus Chennai (The Hindu). Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  7. ^ Cleghorn, Hugh Francis Clarke (1861). The Forests and Gardens of South India (Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Feb 10, 2006 ed.). London: W. H. Allen. OCLC 301345427. 
  8. ^ Oliver, J.W. (1901). "Forestry in India". The Indian Forester v.27 (Original from Harvard University, Digitized Apr 4, 2008 ed.). Allahabad: R. P. Sharma, Business Manager, Indian Forester. pp. 617–623. 
  9. ^ King KFS (1968). "Agro-silviculture (the taungya system)". University of Ibadan / Dept. of Forestry, Bulletin no. 1, 109
  10. ^ Benjamin Weil, "Conservation, Exploitation, and Cultural Change in the Indian Forest Service, 1875-1927" Environmental History (2006) 11#2 online
  11. ^ Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha, This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India (1993)
  12. ^ Burley, Jeffery, et al. 2009. "A History of Forestry at Oxford", British Scholar, Vol. 1, No. 2., pp.236-261. Accessed: May 6, 2012.
  13. ^ America has been the context for both the origins of conservation history and its modern form, environmental history. Asiaticsociety.org.bd. Retrieved on 2011-09-01.
  14. ^ Ajay Singh Rawat (1993). Indian Forestry: A Perspective. Indus Publishing. pp. 85–88. 
  15. ^ Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920 (1959)
  16. ^ "Archives of the Boone and Crockett Club". 
  17. ^ Douglas G. Brinkley, The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (2009)
  18. ^ W. Todd Benson, President Theodore Roosevelt's Conservations Legacy (2003)
  19. ^ Char Miller, Seeking the Greatest Good: The Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot (2013)
  20. ^ "U.S. Statutes at Large, Vol. 26, Chap. 1263, pp. 650-52. "An act to set apart certain tracts of land in the State of California as forest reservations." [H.R. 12187]". Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920. Library of Congress. 
  21. ^ Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground, (1947) p. 32.
  22. ^ * Turner, James Morton, "The Specter of Environmentalism": Wilderness, Environmental Politics, and the Evolution of the New Right. The Journal of American History 96.1 (2009): 123-47 online at History Cooperative
  23. ^ "Inuit Ask Europeans to Support Its Seal Hunt and Way of Life". 6 March 2006. Archived from the original on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 12 July 2007. 

Further reading[edit]

Regional studies[edit]

Africa[edit]

  • Adams, Jonathan S.; McShane, Thomas O. Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation without Illusion (1992) 266p; covers 1900 to 1980s
  • Anderson, David; Grove, Richard. Conservation in Africa: People, Policies & Practice (1988), 355pp
  • Bolaane, Maitseo. "Chiefs, Hunters & Adventurers: The Foundation of the Okavango/Moremi National Park, Botswana". Journal of Historical Geography. 31.2 (Apr. 2005): 241-259.
  • Carruthers, Jane. "Africa: Histories, Ecologies, and Societies," Environment and History, 10 (2004), pp. 379–406;
  • Showers, Kate B. Imperial Gullies: Soil Erosion and Conservation in Lesotho (2005) 346pp

Asia[edit]

  • Economy, Elizabeth. The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future (2010)
  • Elvin, Mark. The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China (2006)
  • Grove, Richard H.; Damodaran, Vinita jain; Sangwan, Satpal. Nature and the Orient: The Environmental History of South and Southeast Asia (1998) 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 (1998) 288pp

Latin America[edit]

  • Dean, Warren. With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (1997)
  • Funes Monzote, Reinaldo. From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba: An Environmental History since 1492 (2008)
  • Melville, Elinor G. K. A Plague of Sheep: Environmental Consequences of the Conquest of Mexico (2008)
  • Miller, Shawn William. An Environmental History of Latin America (2007)
  • Noss, Andrew and Imke Oetting. "Hunter Self-Monitoring by the Izoceño -Guarani in the Bolivian Chaco". Biodiversity & Conservation. 14.11 (2005): 2679-2693.
  • Simonian, Lane. Defending the Land of the Jaguar: A History of Conservation in Mexico (1995) 326pp

Europe and Russia[edit]

  • Arnone Sipari, Lorenzo, Scritti scelti di Erminio Sipari sul Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo (1922-1933) (2011), 360pp.
  • Bonhomme, Brian. Forests, Peasants and Revolutionaries: Forest Conservation & Organization in Soviet Russia, 1917-1929 (2005) 252pp.
  • Cioc, Mark. The Rhine: An Eco-Biography, 1815-2000 (2002).
  • Simmons, I.G. An Environmental History of Great Britain: From 10,000 Years Ago to the Present (2001).
  • Weiner, Douglas R. Models of Nature: Ecology, Conservation and Cultural Revolution in Soviet Russia (2000) 324pp; covers 1917 to 1939.

United States[edit]

  • Bates, J. Leonard. "Fulfilling American Democracy: The Conservation Movement, 1907 to 1921", The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, (1957), 44#1 pp. 29–57. in JSTOR
  • Brinkley, Douglas G. The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Cawley, R. McGreggor. Federal Land, Western Anger: The Sagebrush Rebellion and Environmental Politics (1993), on conservatives
  • Flippen, J. Brooks. Nixon and the Environment (2000).
  • Hays, Samuel P. Beauty, Health, and Permanence: Environmental Politics in the United States, 1955–1985 (1987), the standard scholarly history
    • Hays, Samuel P. A History of Environmental Politics since 1945 (2000), shorter standard history
  • Hays, Samuel P. Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency (1959), on Progressive Era.
  • King, Judson. The Conservation Fight, From Theodore Roosevelt to the Tennessee Valley Authority (2009)
  • Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind, (3rd ed. 1982), the standard intellectual history
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Pinchot, Gifford (1922). "Conservation Policy". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). 
  • Rothmun, Hal K. The Greening of a Nation? Environmentalism in the United States since 1945 (1998)
  • Scheffer, Victor B. The Shaping of Environmentalism in America (1991).
  • Sellers, Christopher. Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America (2012)
  • Strong, Douglas H. Dreamers & Defenders: American Conservationists. (1988) 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 (2009): 123-47 online at History Cooperative

World[edit]

  • Barton, Gregory A. Empire, Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism, (2002), covers British Empire
  • Bolton, Geoffrey. Spoils and Spoilers: Australians Make Their Environment, 1788-1980 (1981) 197pp
  • Clover, Charles. The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat. (2004) 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 (2000),

Historiography[edit]

  • Cioc, Mark, Björn-Ola Linnér, and Matt Osborn, "Environmental History Writing in Northern Europe," Environmental History, 5 (2000), pp. 396–406
  • Bess, Michael, Mark Cioc, and James Sievert, "Environmental History Writing in Southern Europe," Environmental History, 5 (2000), pp. 545–56;
  • Coates, Peter. "Emerging from the Wilderness (or, from Redwoods to Bananas): Recent Environmental History in the United States and the Rest of the Americas," Environment and History, 10 (2004), pp. 407–38
  • Hay, Peter. Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought (2002), standard scholarly history excerpt and text search
  • McNeill, John R. "Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History," History and Theory, 42 (2003), pp. 5–43.
  • Robin, Libby, and Tom Griffiths, "Environmental History in Australasia," Environment and History, 10 (2004), pp. 439–74
  • Worster, Donald, ed. The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History (1988)

External links[edit]