In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill giving over Yosemite National Park and a grove of giant sequoias in California "for public use, resort and recreation."
With the addition of the wording "...and inalienable for all time" Yosemite became the first public land ever set aside by a federal government simply to protect them, and to allow for their enjoyment by all people.
many other preservation efforts have been successful as parks, land
conservancies and protected coastal areas.
But what about conservation? As our understanding of the interconnectedness of nature intensifies,
so too have the efforts to conserve -- and not just isolated
areas of natural beauty -- but whole ecosystems.
Why conservation is so important
flying south for winter, many large land animals will travel
hundreds or even thousands of miles, depending on the season.
However, in North America, their travel is often impeded by
human infrastructure, such as roads, as the migration routes
are increasingly encroached upon by development that threatens
Preservation is SO 19th century. Today, universal conservation efforts raise the stakes by promoting protection
of the entire Earth, the only planet we've got. At left, Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, painted
in 1865. At right, a 21st century Hubble image of the Earth as seen from space.
is also a particularly hot topic in developing nations across
the world. As their economies grow, countries may begin to
exploit the natural resources which can have a huge negative
impact on the ecosystem within their borders.
for example, many conservation efforts are aimed at trying
to prevent deforestation,
which is at least partially responsible for the increased
rate at which the Gobi desert is transforming the landscape
of China into a parched and unusable desert tract.
the Amazon rainforest is another massive ecosystem that many
conservationists believe is on the verge of collapse. Slash-and-burn
farming is slowing eating away at the Amazon rainforest, and
many conservationists believe that, eventually, deforestation
will reach a point where the forest will no longer be a self
sustaining ecosystem, and the entire forest will begin to
wither and die.
oceans, too, are perhaps the biggest ecosystem in dire need
of conservation as water pollution, overfishing, and habitat
destruction have compromised the entire ocean ecosystem.
As science has shown us just how interconnected the world
really is, conservation efforts across the world have expanded
as the help raise the consciousness of the general public
on the topic. Conservation
is no longer about preserving isolated pieces of land, but
rather about preserving a delicate ecosystem called planet
information on conservation around the Web:
- Central clearinghouse of information and learning resources
by topic including climate change, oceans and forests, species
protection and ecotourism plus a guide with tips on how everyone
can contribute to conserving and protecting the earth's natural
- The online edition of the print publication with current
and archived feature articles browseable by subject area including
teaching resources, subscription information.