conservation of natural resources
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conservation of natural resources,the wise use of the earth's resources by humanity. The term conservation came into use in the late 19th cent. and referred to the management, mainly for economic reasons, of such valuable natural resources as timber, fish, game, topsoil, pastureland, and minerals, and also to the preservation of forests (see forestryforestry,
the management of forest lands for wood, water, wildlife, forage, and recreation. Because the major economic importance of the forest lies in wood and wood products, forestry has been chiefly concerned with timber management, especially reforestation, maintenance of
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haven or sanctuary for animals; an area of land or of land and water set aside and maintained, usually by government or private organization, for the preservation and protection of one or more species of wildlife. Types of Refuges
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land retaining its primeval character with the imprint of humans minimal or unnoticeable. In the United States, the Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System with a nucleus of 9 million acres (3.
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elevation or divide separating the catchment area, or drainage basin, of one river system or group of river systems from another system or group of systems. The term is also often used synonymously with drainage basin.
..... Click the link for more information. areas. In recent years the science of ecologyecology,
study of the relationships of organisms to their physical environment and to one another. The study of an individual organism or a single species is termed autecology; the study of groups of organisms is called synecology.
..... Click the link for more information. has clarified the workings of the biospherebiosphere,
irregularly shaped envelope of the earth's air, water, and land encompassing the heights and depths at which living things exist. The biosphere is a closed and self-regulating system (see ecology), sustained by grand-scale cycles of energy and of materials—in
..... Click the link for more information. ; i.e., the complex interrelationships among humans, other animals, plants, and the physical environment. At the same time burgeoning population and industry and the ensuing pollutionpollution,
contamination of the environment as a result of human activities. The term pollution refers primarily to the fouling of air, water, and land by wastes (see air pollution; water pollution; solid waste).
..... Click the link for more information. have demonstrated how easily delicately balanced ecological relationships can be disrupted (see air pollutionair pollution,
contamination of the air by noxious gases and minute particles of solid and liquid matter (particulates) in concentrations that endanger health. The major sources of air pollution are transportation engines, power and heat generation, industrial processes, and the
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contamination of water resources by harmful wastes; see also sewerage, water supply, pollution, and environmentalism. Industrial Pollution
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discarded materials other than fluids. In the United States in 1996, nearly 210 million tons—about 4.3 lb. (2 kg) per person daily (up from 2.7 lb./1.2 kg in 1960)—were collected and disposed of by municipalities.
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Conservation of natural resources is now usually embraced in the broader conception of conserving the earth itself by protecting its capacity for self-renewal. Particularly complex are the problems of nonrenewable resources such as oil and coal (see energy, sources ofenergy, sources of,
origins of the power used for transportation, for heat and light in dwelling and working areas, and for the manufacture of goods of all kinds, among other applications.
..... Click the link for more information. ) and other minerals in great demand. Current thinking also favors the protection of entire ecological regions by the creation of "biosphere reserves." Examples of such conservation areas include the Great Barrier Reef off Australia and Adirondack State Park in the United States. The importance of reconciling human use and conservation beyond the boundaries of parks has become another important issue.
Conservation in the United States
Conservation became part of U.S. government policy with the creation (1871) of a U.S. commissioner of fish and fisheriesfisheries.
From earliest times and in practically all countries, fisheries have been of industrial and commercial importance. In the large N Atlantic fishing grounds off Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, European and North American fishing fleets have long taken cod,
..... Click the link for more information. . The Forestry Bureau of the Dept. of Agriculture created the first national forest reserve in 1891. The Irrigation Division in the U.S. Geological Survey developed into the Bureau of Reclamation. The Geological Survey has cataloged and classified the resources of the public domain. In 1906 an act protected the Alaskan fisheries. Conservation as part of a total approach to the use of natural resources was first introduced by President Theodore Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. In 1907 President Roosevelt appointed the Inland Waterways Commission, which emphasized the connection between forests, water supply, and stream flow. In 1909 he appointed the National Conservation Commission, which published the first inventory of the country's natural resources. Roosevelt in 1907 began withdrawing large areas of western public land from sale and settlement so that their resources might be investigated, and setting apart forest reserves, following the example of President Cleveland. Approximately one fourth of all timberland is held by the government. The National Park Service was created in 1916 to preserve landscapes of important aesthetic value. In the 1930s the erosion of much arable land in the Midwest underscored the need for land reclamation and for conservation in general. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 provided for conservation. The Civilian Conservation Corps, founded in 1933 to relieve unemployment, furnished the personnel for many conservation projects. The Tennessee Valley Authority, set up in 1933, was an outstanding attempt to apply principles of conservation, soil reclamation, and electrification to an entire area, although some critics claim that the extensive river damming and similar New Deal legislation did not, on the whole, have a positive effect on the environment. By 1960 the Soil Conservation Service, established in 1935, covered 95% of all farms and ranches in the United States. By the same year, under the Conservation Reserve Program, some 28 million acres of cropland had been returned to grass and forest cover. Throughout the 1950s attention was focused on the problem of conservation of water resources, particularly in the Southwest. In the 1960s pollution problems came to the fore in all industrialized countries. In the United States numerous laws were passed to protect the environment and its resources (see environmentalismenvironmentalism,
movement to protect the quality and continuity of life through conservation of natural resources, prevention of pollution, and control of land use. The philosophical foundations for environmentalism in the United States were established by Thomas Jefferson,
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The commitment of nations to conservation policies varies. Some nations have few or no protected areas, while 38% of Ecuador's land is protected and 44% of Luxembourg's is. (In the United States 7% of the land is protected.) Plants and animals have been protected through curtailment of whalingwhaling,
the hunting of whales for the oil that can be rendered from their flesh, for meat, and for baleen (whalebone). Historically, whale oil was economically the most important. Early Whaling
Whaling for subsistence dates to prehistoric times.
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any plant or animal species whose ability to survive and reproduce has been jeopardized by human activities. In 1999 the U.S. government, in accordance with the U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. have been protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES, 1979). In addition to CITES, United Nations Conference on Environment and DevelopmentUnited Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED) or Earth Summit,
an 11-day meeting held in June, 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the global conflict between economic development and environmental protection.
..... Click the link for more information. (the "Earth Summit," 1992) produced an agreement to protect the world's biological diversitybiological diversity
the number of species in a given habitat. Scientists have variously estimated that there are from 3 to 30 million extant species, of which 2.
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(WWF), international organization formed to raise money for conservation projects, est. 1961. The international organization, believing that its name no longer reflected the scope of its activities, became the Worldwide Fund for Nature
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international organization that promotes environmental awareness and addresses environmental abuse through direct, nonviolent confrontations with governments and companies. Founded in 1971 to oppose U.S.
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See D. W. Ehrenfeld, Conserving Life on Earth (1972); D. Worsher, Nature's Economy (1977); R. Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind (3d ed. 1982); S. P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency. (1986).
natural resources, conservation of:see conservation of natural resourcesconservation of natural resources,
the wise use of the earth's resources by humanity. The term conservation came into use in the late 19th cent. and referred to the management, mainly for economic reasons, of such valuable natural resources as timber, fish, game, topsoil,
..... Click the link for more information. .