Many threatened habitats and species need our attention. However, while our imagination may see infinite possibilities for their conservation, some thought would immediately suggest the need for biodiversity conservation planning. We cannot save all that need saving, for there are just too many on the endangered list and our resources are finite. Rather than dilute those resources over many different targets, a wiser approach would be to tag certain species and habitats as candidates for conservation and/or protection and concentrate our efforts on these select few. This would allow scarce human and financial resources to be spent for minimal biotic impoverishment and maximal biodiversity contribution to human well being.
How can the most useful components of biodiversity be saved for current or future use? And how can such ethical considerations as our responsibility to other species and to future generations be incorporated into COnservation priorities Essay? Answering such questions requires one to have informed conservation priorities. The points that should be taken into account are listed below.
The very essence of biodiversity conservation lies with preserving the greatest possible variety of the world’s life forms and the habitats they occupy. Thus, the more significant members of this variety should receive greater attention. For example, given the choice between saving a species with many relatives and one with only a few, I would choose to save the more distinctive one. Consider it on a genetic level.
The genus with fewer species has a comparatively smaller gene pool, and should a particular species become extinct, that would mean the loss of a significant portion of that gene pool, which may be irrecoverable. As opposed to a larger genus in which the genes are likely to be more evenly distributed throughout all species, and thus any loss may be a sustainable one.
Maintaining the highest number of species without considering their taxonomic position makes little sense, as a comparison of marine and terrestrial environments shows. Terrestrial environments contain at least 80 percent of the world’s total species, mainly because vascular plants and insects are so numerous on land–accounting for nearly 72 percent of all described species in the world–and so poorly represented in marine environments. However, the sea contains greater proportions of higher taxonomic units. Marine ecosystems contain representatives of some 43 phyla while terrestrial environments are home to only 28 phyla.
The sea contains fully 90 percent of all classes and phyla of animals. Clearly, efforts to conserve the widest array of biodiversity must give attention to all levels of the taxonomic hierarchy.
Usefulness is a very important criterion when assessing bioconservation plans. No one opposed the widescale state-sponsored eradication of the smallpox virus and most people would agree that it is more important to conserve a subspecies of wild rice than a subspecies of “weed”. The same problem presents itself in habitat conservation. Often, the threatened habitat upstream from a settlement, which needs to be dammed to be saved, may be sacrificed over human needs.
If that same one happened to be downstream, it’ likely that it would have been.
However, assessing usefulness begs two questions. One, useful for whom? Conservation of endangered species has obvious benefits for communities, nations, even the world at large, but the benefit is not identical for each group. From a global perspective, the conservation of a particular region’s biodiversity might help to regulate climate, influence the atmosphere’s chemical composition, and provide all of humanity with industrial products, medicines, and a source of genes for crop breeding. Locally, conservation may also provide people with fuel, clean water, game, timber, aesthetic satisfaction and important cultural symbols or resources.
Because the conservation benefits received by the local and global communities are not congruent, international and local priorities will also differ.
To humanity at large, conserving tropical forests matters more than conserving arid deserts since the forests contain a tremendous variety of life and heavily influence global climate. Locally, however, the biodiversity of each region is equally valuable since it provides essential ecosystem services that local people rely upon. Neither perspective is necessarily the “correct” view of biodiversity; either–global or local, current or future–reflects an implicit value judgment. In such a situation, I would weigh the options equally before making an informed .