The conservation of natural resources is a practice that protects existing natural resources so that there is enough left for future generations. Conservation efforts include protecting the biodiversity of species, ecosystems, and the environment. Conservation of natural resources includes the sustainable use of resources by humans for various activities. The continuous growth of the human population has led to the overconsumption of resources. Consequently, this has resulted in a loss of biodiversity on the Earth.
Social and Economic Dimension of Resource Management
According to recent research, social networks play an important role in the effective and adaptive management of natural resources. Treating communities and the environment as one ensures that communities get the opportunity to voice their opinions on decisions regarding conservation initiatives that affect them. Considering communities as playing an integral role in resource management also lets them decrease their dependency on large corporations that carelessly utilize and dispose of resources.
The economic approach to the management of resources includes the use of tools like taxes, permits, licenses, subsidies, rights, etc. The proper use of these tools can ensure that the use of natural resources is minimized and those that are utilized are done so efficiently.
Key Issues Concerning Natural Resources
Land as a natural resource is threatened by environmental issues such as loss of soil fertility, soil erosion, floods and droughts caused by climate change, and deforestation. Soil and land can be conserved by avoiding tilling lands on slopes, grazing of livestock should be managed, and stubble and bush plants can be planted to prevent desertification.
Forests and their ecosystems face a number of challenges such as forest fires, sawing and lumbering for wood and timber, demand for greater agricultural areas, and lack of concessions to tribals that inhabit forests. Forest cover is fast dwindling throughout the world. In India, for example, presently, only 20% of the area is under the cover of forests against the required 33%.
3. Water, Coastal, and Marine Resources
Although oceans and water bodies collectively occupy the largest area on Earth, they face the direst threats. Threats include the presence of plastics that kill hundreds of marine animals daily, run-off water from industries containing harmful chemicals, the overexploitation of fishes as food, drilling of wells off-shore to obtain oil and gas, and the bleaching of corals.
Forest Management Strategies
Forest management is critical to reversing deforestation. It is the process by which the stock of carbon in forests is increased through activities that mitigate deforestation. There are four main strategies that concern the management of forests. They are:
Increase of forest area through the reduction of deforestation and degradation.
Increasing the area under forest cover through afforestation.
Increase of carbon density of soils in and around forests through reducing soil carbon lost by soil erosion, prevention of stubble burning, and increasing harvests methods that maintain vegetation cover on the ground all year-round.
Enhancement of forest products such as wood as substitutions to fossil-fuel intensive materials like concrete and steel. In 2006, there was a study that analyzed the CO2 emissions from wooden products as an alternative to concrete material used in buildings. The study found that buildings with wooden frames had a net carbon reduction of 110-470 kg CO2 per square meter as compared to concrete frames.
Oceans and seas contain 97% of all water on Earth. This water is salty and unfit for human consumption. The water that is available for human consumption comprises only 1% of all water. With so many people around the world depending on a minuscule amount of water for their daily needs, conservation of water takes center stage. The strategies mentioned below are critical to water conservation.
Rather than letting it run off, water must be made to infiltrate into the soil. This substantially increases the amount of groundwater.
Reducing water lost due to evaporation. One example of this is irrigating crops in the early morning or late evening. This way, the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced, and the water seeping into the soil is increased.
Reusing treated water. Examples include using water from baths and kitchens to irrigate gardens or fields. This way, freshwater can be conserved.
Reducing water disposed of commercial buildings by the installation of low-capacity flushes in toilets and a regular check of water pipes for leaks.
Rainwater harvesting is the process by which rainwater running off from the roof of a building or house and other impervious surfaces are collected and stored to be used later. The rainwater falling on the roof of a structure is first collected in small gutter or channel ways and then led into storage tanks or cisterns. Rainwater harvesting is a viable technology to collect water falling on roofs that would otherwise go to waste. By harvesting rainwater, we can effectively control our own water supply. There are many benefits of harvesting rainwater. Some of them are:
It is a clean and free source of water.
The technology used to harvest rainwater does not harm the environment.
The water is free of chlorine, and therefore, safe for gardens and fields.
The system is easy to maintain and inexpensive.
The system can easily be relocated or expanded to store more rainwater.
One of the biggest reasons that rainwater harvesting is so important is that it allows us to conserve already existing groundwater and freshwater reserves. Thus, the strain on our water reserves can be greatly reduced.
Soil Conservation Strategies
Soil conservation strategies help in mitigating erosion, maintaining fertility, preventing degradation, and reducing pollution in the environment caused by farming activities. Thus, soil conservation strategies contribute significantly to sustaining resources and the environment. Strategies of soil conservation depend on three simple points:
Obtaining data on land resource uses.
The continuous monitoring of fields and farmlands.
Managing and monitoring the implementation of soil conservation techniques.
The approaches mentioned above, if followed appropriately, can boost sustainable agricultural practices and consequently contribute to a better and healthy environment.
The Green Revolution
Norman Borlaug initiated the Green Revolution in the 1960s. It is characterized by a surplus of food grains that was a result of high-yield and resilient crop varieties. In addition to, being introduced to farmers on a country-wide scale. The Green Revolution was a huge success in Mexico and India in terms of the country’s foodgrain production. In India particularly, the country became one of the world’s leading agricultural nations. However, the new varieties of crops that were introduced required enormous quantities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Poor farmers could not afford to buy these and thus reaped lower yields. Also, as a consequence of huge quantities of chemicals seeping into the soil, there have been environmental concerns involving soil degradation and fertility. There have also been studies that suggest the older varieties were more accustomed to the local climate and had better resistance to pests.
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