What do you see when you think of conservation?
When most people think of ‘conservation’ they think of pristine landscapes; nature at the epitome of ecological health, unchanging and unblemished by human use. But that's a very one-dimensional perspecitve on conservation, and an overly static view of the natural world. What about the parts of nature that are less than pristine? What about all of the degraded land that could become ‘pristine’ again one day, and all of the landscapes that humans are irrevocably a part of? Can we extend our vision of conservation to these landscapes as well? Should we?
Don’t get me wrong, we need to fight tooth and claw to safeguard the few unspoiled refuges that remain on earth – no question. Nature knows best how to flourish and we need to preserve these largely untouched ecosystems for both their intrinsic value and the countless lessons that they offer to humanity. But at this rate, if we don’t expand our view of conservation beyond pristine nature we’ll soon be left with a few fenced-in, postage stamp-sized parks surrounded by a sea of desolation. Conservation won’t survive if it’s confined only to our parks, and neither will nature.
Adopt a Clearcut
Community Forests International recently purchased a 60 acre clearcut on the Chignecto Isthmus in Southeast New Brunswick (pictured above). The region is an important and threatened wildlife corridor that connects Nova Scotia to the rest of the continent. We did it for conservation. Just think of this beat up piece of land 100 years from now, when a flourishing forest is once again restored! Its conservation value will be clear for anyone to see then. To get there though, we have to recognize it’s value today.
What do you think? Is it time to expand our understanding of conservation? Can we make conservation grow for the future just by changing how we see it today?