It’s no secret that we’ve lost an overwhelming number of species within the past years. These species have all but disappeared due to overpopulation, deforestation, consumer culture, climate change, animal exploitation, and other harming sources – all inflicted by mankind.
The Earth’s natural assets are made up of plants, animals, water, land, the atmosphere, and of course, humans. Biodiversity underpins the health of the planet and has a direct impact on all our lives. Put simply, reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease, and where fresh water is in irregular or short supply.” If biodiversity directly impacts our lives in such big ways, then it’s safe to say that conservation efforts don’t just benefit the environment, they benefit us, too.
One compelling benefit that comes from wildlife conservation efforts is that it ensures food security. Protecting forests from deforestation and rebuilding forest habitats to preserve biodiversity aids in the carbon-sequestering process, provides new economic opportunities, and guards against erosion.
In addition, wildlife conservation promotes agricultural biodiversity, which plays an important role in building a secure, robust, and thriving food system. When agricultural biodiversity is exploited and land is cleared for agriculture, resources and extensive habitat loss take place, as well as undocumented loss of species and massive soil erosion. Research shows this process has negative impacts on nutrition, health and dietary diversity of some groups of society.
Perhaps the most compelling benefit that comes from wildlife conservation is that it provides us with opportunity, whether it be economically, socially, or culturally. Unsustainable resource extraction industries – such as the clear-cut logging industry, the bushmeat industry, the poaching industry, and the charcoal trade – extend the gap between the poor and the rich and have been linked to civil war and political strife.
In addition, increasing biodiversity and healthy ecosystems through conservation improves agricultural productivity, thereby allowing farms to become more profitable. Healthy ecosystems that are home to unique species lure in tourists from around the world, which helps the local economy and invites in a new fusion of investment. Wildlife conservation projects bring the community together as well, as they call for a team effort. From rangers to administrators, conservation initiatives invite the opportunity for a new preservation-based economy.
Our unsustainable, unconscious, self-interested relationship with the environment has lead us into an exceedingly destructible world. If we do not take action and go about changing our ways, we are at risk of losing more vital and irreplaceable ecosystems and biodiversity, or at least until the sixth great extinction claims one final species: our own.