Category : Environment
Nature provides us with different resources which are often called the world’s ‘natural capital’. These benefits are also hugely important to the economy – from farming and forestry to leisure and tourism. If you add them all up, the total value of these benefits is phenomenal – at least US$125 trillion every year.

Why is Nature So Important ?

Nature is an incredible place where we not only live but also appreciate the ways of its works, the way it beautifies everything around us and which inspires us every day. It is also responsible for the development of our economy, and our society, and influences our very existence. Nature comprises forests, rivers, oceans etc. It is also the soil system which provides us with the food we consume daily, the fresh air we breathe, and the water we drink and irrigate our crops with. We also depend on nature for numerous other goods and services, therefore, for our health, happiness and prosperity, nature is the prerequisite.

Nature provides us with different resources which are often called the world’s ‘natural capital’. These benefits are also hugely important to the economy – from farming and forestry to leisure and tourism. If you add them all up, the total value of these benefits is phenomenal – at least US$125 trillion every year.

As nature provides us with everything for free, we often take it for granted and overexploit it. We cut forests, overfish oceans, pollute rivers and destroy wetlands for construction without taking into account the impact this will have on the environment. By not taking into account the benefits we get from nature, we create huge social and economic costs for ourselves.

We have to consider the value of nature in terms of economic and social aspects to have a better understanding of the effects of our actions we do towards nature. It is better if we do not take decisions based only on short-term financial interests, instead, we can look at the longer-term impacts on the lives of the people and how it will affect the economy – and of course nature itself. Governments and other organizations need to take better care of the natural resources so that they can continue to sustain us all into the future.

Threats to Nature

Continued human population growth has led to unsustainable rates of consumption of our natural resources, resulting in a loss of the Earth’s biodiversity. The main factors driving biodiversity loss include habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution.

Declining biodiversity is closely intertwined with species extinction. While extinction is a normal process of nature, the rate at which it is happening today is not. Scientists estimate that current extinction rates are about a thousand times higher now than would be expected based on the fossil record and that we may be experiencing a mass extinction event, which is when 75 per cent or more species are lost at a time.

The extinction of the passenger pigeon is a famous example of extinction caused by human activity. It was once the most abundant land bird in North America, with a population of approximately three to five billion when Europeans arrived. Despite its vast numbers, this pigeon became extinct in the wild by the 1900s because of overhunting. The last individual bird, named Martha, died in captivity in 1941 at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Conservation practices and policies—ranging from the removal of invasive species to setting aside protected land for wildlife and plants, to establishing acts like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have been put in place to combat these extinction pressures. Currently, more than 26,500 species are estimated to be at risk of extinction, though the exact number is difficult to calculate.

Defining Conservation

Earth’s natural resources include air, minerals, plants, soil, water, and wildlife. Conservation is the care and protection of these resources so that they can persist for future generations. It includes maintaining the diversity of species, genes, and ecosystems, as well as functions of the environment such as nutrient cycling.

Conservation is similar to preservation, but while both relate to protecting nature, they strive to accomplish this task in different ways. Conservation seeks the sustainable use of nature by humans, for activities such as hunting, logging, or mining, while preservation means protecting nature from human use.

The goal of National Parks, for instance, is preservation with an emphasis on causing minimal change to the landscape or environment. Meanwhile, National Forests can be used for cattle grazing, lumber, hunting, and recreation.

Nature conservation

Is the moral philosophy and conservation movement focused on protecting species from extinction, maintaining and restoring habitats, enhancing ecosystem services, and protecting biological diversity. There has recently been a movement towards evidence-based conservation which calls for greater use of scientific evidence to improve the effectiveness of conservation efforts. As of 2018, 15% of land and 7.3% of the oceans were protected. Many environmentalists set a target of protecting 30% of land and marine territory by 2030. In 2021, 16.64% of land and 7.9% of the oceans were protected. The 2022 IPCC report on climate impacts and adaptation, underlines the need to conserve 30% to 50% of the Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean areas – echoing the 30% goal of the U.N.’s Convention on Biodiversity. Ultimately, these movements should be further promoted to encourage biodiversity and conserve a functional ecosystem.

Role of International Organizations

The Nature 2030 Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)’s plan is to work towards a vision to conserve nature which includes:

People :

Injustice, inequality and unsustainable use of nature undermine human prosperity and conservation. Gender gaps block sustainable development, while indigenous people and environmental defenders face threats to their rights, cultures and environments. Youth lead calls to action but equitable and effective governance, the environmental rule of law, and enforcement of environmental obligations remain weak in much of the world. Nature’s many contributions to people are not yet adequately recognised by decision-makers.

Land :

Biodiversity is vanishing faster than at any other time in human history. Around one-quarter of species in assessed animal and plant groups are now threatened with extinction. Approximately three-quarters of the land surface is significantly altered, mostly for food production and forestry. One-third of land is degraded or degrading, which harms biodiversity and jeopardises essential ecosystem services such as carbon storage. The growing impact of cities and infrastructure exacerbates these pressures, increasing the risk of extinction and the breakdown of ecosystems.

Water :

Unsustainable use and management of water is degrading ecosystems and driving species to extinction. Many countries need more water to meet their needs, limiting economic growth and contributing to migration and regional instability. Current water laws and management strategies have proven insufficient to address these challenges, which are exacerbated by climate change.

Ocean :

Ocean warming, ocean acidification, ocean deoxygenation, overfishing and pollution are causing long-term harm to marine life, and the people who depend upon it. Poorly regulated sea-bed mining could further damage marine ecosystems. Without reform, the situation is set to worsen with profound impacts on humanity, life in the oceans and global weather systems.

Climate :

Greenhouse gas emissions have risen over the past decade despite the current and future threats posed by climate change. Global average temperatures have risen by 1°C compared to pre-industrial levels and continue to rise. The impacts of climate change will worsen if the 1.5°C threshold is crossed, and will disproportionately affect countries, communities and people that are least able to adapt. Moreover, some proposed solutions to mitigate climate change could further damage biodiversity.

IUCN suggest five pathways to transformative change :

1. Recognise: Recognise that the planet and people face unprecedented challenges, the urgency with which we must act, what we must do, and the role everyone can play. We also recognise that conservation works, that nature is wonderous, and that many are already working to protect and restore it.

2. Retain: Retain the world’s biodiversity, and natural and cultural heritage in key biodiversity areas and other places where diversity and traditional knowledge flourish.

3. Restore: Restore species populations, ecosystems and the benefits that nature provides to people, capitalising on the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

4. Resource: Resource the movement by mobilising investment in nature and the people working to conserve it through finance, capacity development and generating knowledge. Reconnect: Reconnect people, societies and economies to nature, and rebuild connections between fragmented habitats.

Steps taken by the Indian government to preserve nature

World Nature Conservation Day is observed on July 28th every year across the world to create awareness of natural resource conservation and protect nature. With the rise in the level of deforestation and losing wildlife, the conservation of nature has become a top priority. In India, due to the rise in urbanization, issues like loss of forest cover, pollution, and loss of wildlife have increased. The government has taken the initiative to reverse the situation. Here are five Initiatives taken by the Government of India:

• The vision of creating the Nagar Van Udyan Scheme is to develop at least one City Forest in each city having Municipal Corporation or Class 1 Cities to accommodate a wholesome health environment and contribute to the growth of a clean, green, and sustainable India. Its objective is to create 200 City forests in the country and to create awareness about plants and biodiversity. Give conservation education to the people, who are unaware of the damages that can happen due to their ignorance of the conservation of nature.

• Waste management under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a mass movement started in the year 2014. The Abhiyan motives lie in the cleanliness of the environment. It hopes to create a sense of responsibility among the citizens to help achieve Mahatma Gandhi’s aim for Clean India. The main objective of the Abhiyan is to recover resources for utilization through recycling and creating employment in the process.

• Project Tiger has been the most successful environmental project by the Government. Project Tiger was adopted in the year 1973 to improve the decreasing numbers of Tigers in India. It is a scheme sponsored by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and assists the tiger states for tiger conservation. The objectives of the projects are to protect and restore the habitat, monitor them day-to-day, eco-development for local people, and relocation of people from the habitats of tigers.

• The Government of India initiated the National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) to conserve and make acute use of wetlands in the country, preventing further degradation. The scheme was introduced to undertake extensive conservation measures in the wetlands that need immediate help.

• The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched the Green Skill Development Programme in June 2017. Green skills include conserving and protecting the green of nature alongside creating awareness among the youth to develop skills and gain experience. In May 2018, during the launch of the GSDP mobile app, Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change said that 2.25 lakh people will be employed through GSDP by the next year and about five lakh will be employed by 2021.

However, mere initiatives and schemes will not put an end to the growing problem. The transformative change that has been mentioned earlier requires grassroots work, interconnected movements and wide-ranging efforts.


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