Resource conservation involves the protection of natural, semi natural or aesthetically pleasing landscapes. Resource conservation is concerned with proper maintenance of available resources. It involves preservation, maintenance, wise utilization, restoration and enhancement of the environment and resources.
This is in order to strike a balance between the rates of use of resources and their formations in order to maintain their stability and continued future use. Conservation activities for non renewable resources focus on maintaining an adequate supply of these resources well into the future. It is important to note that a nation natural resource usually determines her wealth, diplomatic, military and political influence.
Resource conservation seeks to preserve in balance the maximum rates of biological productivity, energy transfer and chemical elements exchanged in all ecosystems while at the same time upholding the quality of the environment and all suited organisms which live therein. The goal of resource conservation is to ensure that such resources are not consumed faster than they are replaced.
Natural resources are conserved for their biological, economic and recreational values, as well as their natural beauty and importance to local cultures. For examples, tropical rain forests are protected for their important role in both global ecology and the economic livelihood of the local culture, a coral reef may be protected for its recreational value for scuba divers, and a scenic river may be protected for its natural beauty.
Conservation conflicts arise when natural resources shortages develop in the face of steadily increasing demands from a growing human population. Controversy frequently surrounds how a resources should be used, or allocated and for whom. For example, a river may supply water for agricultural irrigation, habitat for fish and water generated electricity for a factory.
Farmers, fishers and industry leaders vie for unrestricted access to this river but such freedom could destroy the resource and conservation methods are necessary to protect the river for future use. Conflicts worsen when a natural resources crosses political boundaries. For example, the headwaters or source of a major river may be located in a different country than the country which the river flows.
There is no guarantee that the river source will be protected to accommodate resource needs downstream. In addition, the way in which one natural resource is managed has a direct effect upon other natural resources. Cutting down a forest near a river, for instance, increases erosion, the wearing away of top soil and can lead to flooding.
Reasons for Resource Conservation
- To avoid the sudden resource exhaustion
- To improve the quality of the environment
- To maintain stability in the ecosystem.
- To maintain and protect the existence of rare species of plants and animals.
- To ensure the availability and continued existence of non-renewable resources such as coal, mineral ores, petroleum etc.
- To provide the present generation and the generations yet to come with ever increasing needs or demands.
Resource management refers to the process or methods of managing and conserving both the living and non living resources for the satisfaction of man numerous needs. Natural resource management specifically focuses on a scientific and technological understanding of resources and ecology and the life supporting capacity of those resources.
The challenge of management and conservation is to understand the complex connections among natural resources and balance resource use with protection to ensure an adequate supply for future generations. In order to accomplish this goal, a variety of conservation methods are used. These include the:
Maximization: this is process of resource management which promotes good usage of resources and discourages wastage. This method also leads to increase in the production of resources.
Recycling: this process involves the collection of materials already used, reprocessing them and using them again in place of fresh materials. Living resources such as wood and paper can be recycled. However, the effectiveness of recycling depends so much on the quantity of materials and the methods of organization.
Beneficiation: this is a process of resource management in which the resource that occurs in an uneconomical formation in a given area are improved upon or upgraded and rendered economically viable. This process is usually determined by the type of technological improvement available.
A good example is the availability of resources such as manganese, cobalt, copper and nickel which continuously form nodules on the ocean floor, which are relatively scarce on dry ground. But to harvest or collect them from their natural habitat, appropriate technology must be developed and employed.
Substitution: substitution involves the utilization of resources that are available and ready in place of rare one. A good example is the use of cans instead of bottles for some types of beer or the use of plastics in place of metals for packaging various things.
Allocation: allocation involves the determination of the best way to use a particular resource and at the same time mapping out or scheduling such resources for that use.
The management of living resources is quite similar to that of the non living resources. Hence the living resources can be managed or conserved through the protection and restoration of endangered species through the development of game reserves, national parks etc.
Recycling can also be used in the management of living resources for re-use. Living resources can also be managed by substitution, for instance, species that are readily cultivated can be used in place of species that no longer have recycling period.