The conservation vs preservation argument is something I don't think gets enough attention. If you google these words, you get very different definitions. This might seem obvious, or surprising. They are, of course, different words. But they really do mean very different things and often think differently on how things should happen. This is often blurred, and many people think they're more similar than they are. I got some definitions for you from google:
conservation = the action of conserving something
preservation = the action of preserving something
This is not overly helpful I know, so I googled conserving and preserving, and this reveals the true difference.
conserving = protect (something, especially something of environmental or cultural importance) from harm or destruction
preserving = maintain (something)in its original or existing state
Conservation is all about protection; keeping something going no matter what it takes. Preservation is about protection as well, however focusses on protecting things in their natural state. When it comes to wildlife, conflicts can arise between the two. Conserving wildlife can mean changing it, or changing the natural way of things. Preservationists would never consider this.
I think the best way to explain this is through an example. If you have seen my blog post entitled 'Let Rhinos Roam Free' (LRRF), you will know I co-run another blog for my charity. There you can read my post on why we support lifting the ban on the international trade of rhino horn.
This sounds controversial but do read it, and hopefully I can convince you. Lifting the ban is something some conservationists argue for (although in this particular example not all conservationists agree, but for the sake of this explanation that doesn't really matter). Preservationists would not agree with lifting the ban.
Lifting the ban on international rhino horn trade would mean many rhinos would be de-horned; this of course alters the natural way rhinos are by removing their trademark horns, and the animals would look obviously different. This goes against preserving rhinos in their original state.
However, it also makes them less vulnerable to poaching, and so can give them a better shot at survival. Therefore, conservationists support the idea as it could prevent the extinction of the species; protects it from harm and destruction. Conservationists sometimes have to be more radical.
I would describe myself as a conservationist, and so naturally sympathise more with their side. I do, however, think preservationists are important in making sure things do stay as natural as possible. I suppose in a perfect world, all conservationists would be preservationists.
|Photo by Anna Ashdown|
, by Kate Sheridan