Conservation movement

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The conservation movement is a political and social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including plant and animal species as well as their habitat for the future. Conservation differs from environmentalism in that it aims to preserve natural resources expressly for their continued sustainable use by humans.[1]

The early conservation movement included fisheries and wildlife management, water, soil conservation and sustainable forestry. The contemporary conservation movement has broadened from the early movement's emphasis on use of sustainable yield of natural resources and preservation of wilderness areas to include preservation of biodiversity. Some say the conservation movement is part of the broader and more far-reaching environmental movement, while others argue that they differ both in ideology and practice.



Template:See also The nascent conservation movement slowly developed in the 19th century, starting first in the scientific forestry methods pioneered by the Germans and the French in the 17th and 18th centuries. While continental Europe created the scientific methods later used in conservationist efforts, British India and the United States are credited with starting the conservation movement.

Foresters in India, often German, managed forests using early climate change theories (in America, see also, George Perkins Marsh) that Alexander Von Humboldt developed in the mid 19th century, applied fire protection, and tried to keep the "house-hold" of nature. This was an early ecological idea, in order to preserve the growth of delicate teak trees. The same German foresters who headed the Forest Service of India, such as Dietrich Brandis and Berthold Ribbentrop, traveled back to Europe and established themselves at forestry schools in England (Cooper's Hill, later moved to Oxford), and in Germany. These men brought with them the legislative and scientific knowledge of conservationism in British India back to Europe, where they distributed it to men such as Gifford Pinchot and Bernard Fernow.

America had its own conservation movement in the 19th century, most often characterized by George Perkins Marsh, author of Man and Nature. The expedition into northwest Wyoming in 1871 led by F.V. Hayden and accompanied by photographer William Henry Jackson provided the imagery needed to substantiate rumors about the grandeur of the Yellowstone region, and resulted in the creation of Yellowstone National Park, the world's first, in 1872. Travels by later U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt through the region around Yellowstone provided the impetus for the creation of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve in 1891. The largest section of the reserve was later renamed Shoshone National Forest, and it is the oldest National Forest in the U.S. But it was not until 1898 when German forester Dr. Carl A. Schenck, on the Biltmore Estate, and Cornell University founded the first two forestry schools, both run by Germans. Bernard Fernow, founder of the forestry schools at Cornell University and the University of Toronto, was originally from Prussia (Germany), and he honed his knowledge from Germans who pioneered forestry in India. He introduced Gifford Pinchot, the "father of American forestry," to Brandis and Ribbentrop in Europe. From these men, Pinchot learned the skills and legislative patterns he would later apply to America. Pinchot, in his memoir history Breaking New Ground, credited Brandis especially with helping to form America's conservation laws.

In the early 1900s the Conservation movement in America was split into two main groups: conservationists, like Pinchot, who were utilitarian foresters and natural rights advocates who wanted to protect forests "for the greater good for the greatest length," and preservationists, such as John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club. Whereas conservationists wanted regulated use of forest lands for both public activities and commercial endeavors, preservationists wanted forest to be preserved for natural beauty, scientific study and recreation. The differences continue to the modern era, with sustainable harvest and multiple-use the major focus of the U.S. Forest Service and recreation emphasized by the National Park Service.

Contributions by hunters

Template:Globalize Hunters have been driving forces throughout history in the movement to ensure long-term sustainability of natural resources and wildlife habitats. Some hunters feel that the honor once bestowed upon their sport has diminished over the years, claiming that mainstream media sometimes ignores the connection between hunting and conservation and often publishes claims that hunting endangers wildlife. Of greater concern to endangered wildlife is the loss of habitat, brought on by overpopulation and urban development. Because of their connection with the land and vested interest in increasing wildlife populations, hunters have been influential in implementing and financing various programs geared towards habitat restoration and conservation.

Legislation lobbied by hunters

Hunters have worked closely with local and federal governments to enact legislation to protect wildlife habitats. The following examples represent hunter-advocated legislation enacted to generate funds for preserving and establishing habitats.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters successfully lobbied to prevent cuts in funding for the Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program by 50%.

Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937

In 1937, hunters successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, which placed an 11% tax on all hunting equipment. This self-imposed tax now generates over $700 million each year and is used exclusively to establish, restore and protect wildlife habitats.[2]

Federal Duck Stamp Program

On March 16, 1934 President Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which requires an annual stamp purchase by all hunters over the age of sixteen. The stamps are created on behalf of the program by the U.S. Postal Service and depict wildlife artwork chosen through an annual contest. They play an important role in habitat conservation because 98% of all funds generated by their sale go directly toward the purchase or lease of wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System. In addition to waterfowl, it is estimated that one third of the nation's endangered species seek food and shelter in areas protected using Duck Stamp funds. Since 1934, the sale of Federal Duck Stamps has generated $670M and helped to purchase or lease 5.2 million acres (21,000 km²) of habitat. The stamps serve as a license to hunt migratory birds, an entrance pass for all National Wildlife Refuge areas and are also considered collectors items often purchased for aesthetic reasons outside of the hunting and birding communities. Although non-hunters buy a significant number of Duck Stamps, 87% of their sales are contributed to hunters. Distribution of funds is managed by The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC).[3]

Conservation organizations founded by hunters

There are a number of organizations founded by hunters and by those interested in preserving wildlife populations and habitats. One of the oldest and most well-known organizations is Ducks Unlimited. Another internationally recognized hunters' conservation organization is Safari Club International.

Problem areas

Deforestation and overpopulation are issues affecting all regions of the world. The consequent destruction of wildlife habitat has prompted the creation of conservation groups in other countries, some founded by local hunters who have witnessed declining wildlife populations first hand.

Boreal forest and arctic

The idea of incentive conservation is a modern one but its practice has clearly defended some of the sub arctic wildernesses and the wildlife in those regions for thousands of years, especially by indigenous peoples such as the Evenk, Yakut, Sami, Inuit and Cree. The fur trade and hunting of these peoples have preserved these regions for thousands of years in some cases until now, ironically the pressure now upon them come from non renewable resources such as oil, sometimes ironically to make synthetic clothing advocated as "humane" as opposed to fur. (See Raccoon Dog for case study of the conservation an animal is through fur trade.) A similar case where hunting and fur got the blame for an animal's demise, when in fact it was responsible for its revival , was the beaver. For many years childrens books stated and still do, that the decline in beaver was because of the fur trade, when in fact it was because of habitat destruction and deforestation, and its continued persecution as a pest (it causes flooding). In Cree lands however, where the population valued the nanimal for meat and fur, it continued to thrive. The Inuit defend their relationship with the seal in response to outside critics.[4]

In other regions of the Arctic, the Sami in Scandinavia, Russia and the Evenk in Siberia, indigenous peeoples and their traditional hunting and fur trade are making a clear stand against the more "modern" resource exploitation.[citation needed]

Eighty percent of the worlds furs are produced in these regions either through farming by groups such as SAGA or 22% by indigenous peoples. Fur and hunting it appears, as indeed Greenpeace are finding out in the Sami forests, is an economic barrier to development, deforestation etc. The WWF has established areas of traditional hunting and animal use in Siberia and these sable reserves are clearly based on the principles of Incentive Conservation.[5]

United Kingdom

In the UK, foxhunts are not uncommon despite recent legislation disallowing it.

Latin America (Bolivia)

The Izoceño-Guaraní of Santa Cruz, Bolivia is a tribe comprised of hunters who were influential in establishing the Capitania del Alto y Bajo Isoso (CABI). CABI promotes economic growth and survival of the Izoceno people while discouraging the rapid destruction of habitat within Bolivia’s Gran Chaco. They are responsible for the creation of the 34,000 square kilometre Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Area (KINP). The KINP protects the most biodiverse portion of the Gran Chaco, an ecoregion shared with Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. In 1996, the Wildlife Conservation Society joined forces with CABI to institute wildlife and hunting monitoring programs in 23 Izoceño communities. The partnership combines traditional beliefs and local knowledge with the political and administrative tools needed to effectively manage habitats. The programs rely solely on voluntary participation by local hunters who perform self-monitoring techniques and keep records of their hunts. The information obtained by the hunters participating in the program has provided CABI with important data required to make educated decisions about the use of the land. Hunters have been willing participants in this program because of pride in their traditional activities, encouragement by their communities and expectations of benefits to the area.

Because of their spiritual beliefs, many hunters indigenous to this area used conservative approaches to hunting even before population declines were noted. Common self-imposed conservation techniques followed by this tribe include seasonal rotation of hunting areas; not hunting young animals; not hunting excessively beyond the needs of ones family; not hunting vulnerable species; and the substitution of other activities during certain seasons (fishing/farming).

Africa (Botswana)

In order to discourage illegal South African hunting parties and ensure future local use and sustainability, indigenous hunters in Botswana began lobbying for and implementing conservation practices in the 1960s. The Fauna Preservation Society of Ngamiland (FPS) was formed in 1962 by Robert Kay, an environmentalist working in conjunction with the Batawana tribes to preserve wildlife habitat. The FPS promotes habitat conservation and provides local education for preservation of wildlife. Conservation initiatives were met with strong opposition from the Botswana government because of the monies tied to big-game hunting. In 1963, BaTawanga Chiefs and tribal hunter/adventurers in conjunction with the FPS founded Moremi National Park and Wildlife Refuge, the first area to be set aside by tribal people rather than governmental forces. Moremi National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including lions, giraffes, elephants, buffalo, zebra, cheetahs and antelope, and covers an area of 3,000 square kilometers. Most of the groups involved with establishing this protected land were involved with hunting and were motivated by their personal observations of declining wildlife and habitat.

See also




  • J. Leonard Bates. "Fulfilling American Democracy: The Conservation Movement, 1907 to 1921," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 44, No. 1. (Jun., 1957), pp. 29-57. in JSTOR
  • Gregory A. Barton, Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism, Cambridge University Press, 2001
  • Brett Bennett, "Early Conservation Histories in Bengal and Colonial India, 1875-1922," The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dec. 2005
  • Bolaane, Maitseo. “Chiefs, Hunters & Adventurers: The Foundation of the Okavango/Moremi National Park, Botswana”. Journal of Historical Geography. 31.2 (Apr. 2005): 241-259.
  • Clover, Charles. 2004. The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat. Ebury Press, London. ISBN 0-09-189780-7
  • Herring, Hall and Thomas McIntyre. “Hunting’s New Ambassadors (Sporting Conservation Council)”. Field and Stream. 111.2 (June 2006): p. 18.
  • Roderick Nash "Wilderness and the American Mind" Yale University Press, 1967
  • Richard W. Judd "Common Lands and Common People, The Origins of Conservation in Northern New England" Harvard University Press, 1997
  • Samuel P. Hays, "Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency" Harvard University Press, 1959.
  • Noss, Andrew and Imke Oetting. “Hunter Self-Monitoring by the Izoceño -Guarani in the Bolivian Chaco”. Biodiversity & Conservation. 14.11 (2005): 2679-2693.
  • Pope, Carl. “A Sporting Chance – Sportsmen and Sportswomen are some of the biggest supporters for the preservation of wildlife”. Sierra. 81.3 (May/June 1996): 14.
  • Reiger, George. “Common Ground: Battles Over Hunting Only Draw Attention Away From the Real Threat to Wildlife”. Field and Stream. 100.2 (June 1985): p. 12.
  • Reiger, George. “Sportsmen Get No Respect (Media Ignores Role of Sportsmen in Conservation)”. Field and Stream. 101.10 (Feb 1997): p. 18.

External links

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