For biodiversity to thrive, it needs healthy and safe habitats. However, urbanization and agricultural expansion have tremendously impacted biological communities. Formulating and implementing conservation strategies can guarantee the survival of wildlife species and the protection of their habitats.
This article explores the definition of wildlife conservation strategy. We also examine some methods and essential strategies that promote the development of wildlife conservation.
What is a conservation strategy?
Conservation strategy refers to a series of actions taken towards conserving biodiversity. It provides solutions for endangered species according to their needs. It guides the protection and management of the environment.
Conservation strategy helps maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems, preserve genetic diversity, and ensure sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems.
There are two methods applied to biodiversity conservation. They are:
- Ex-Situ Biodiversity Conservation
- In-Situ Biodiversity Conservation
Ex-Situ Biodiversity Conservation
Ex-situ biodiversity conservation, also known as off-site conservation, refers to one of the ways to conserve biodiversity by ensuring their survival outside their natural habitat and putting them in a controlled environment.2
This method aims to ensure the survival of threatened species and the maintenance of associated genetic diversity. It also facilitates the restoration of species back into nature by preserving living semen, embryos, and DNA segments in frozen blood and tissues.
This conservation method is suitable for animals and native plants. It increases the genes, seeds, sperms, and ovules through cryopreservation. We preserve seeds, pollens, and ovules to preserve future generations of plants. Also, plant culture and plant breeding produce plants in vitro
Animals preserved outside their habitats require captive breeding and embryo culture to facilitate their reintroduction into the environment. However, it requires extensive knowledge of genetic structure, regeneration methods, and maintenance of the species gene pool.
Earlier, we mentioned that off-site conservation is the removal of biodiversity from their natural habitats to an area with the same conditions. There are four methods used to ensure ex-situ conservation. They are:
Zoos are establishments that display wildlife populations in areas designed to mimic their natural habitats. They provide food, shelter, and medicine- essentially acting as caretakers.
Curators are exceptionally trained in animal acquisition and transfer. Zoo keepers perform routine checkups on the animals. Veterinary doctors treat illnesses, diseases, and injuries. At the same time, trained volunteers guide visitors and educate them.
Related Read: Should Zoos Be Banned?
Gardens display a wide variety of wild and rare native plants. The Botanical gardens are a crucial tool for research and education into the origins of plants and the damage caused by human activities.
It fosters the preservation of plants by creating the exact climate conditions and nutritional requirements of their native habitats.
Aquariums are a home away from home for aquatic species. It is an artificial ecosystem for aquatic plants and animals. It efficiently protects them from threatened natural aquatic ecosystems. Also, management is easy because it caters to a small population.
Gene banks store, maintain, and recreate living samples of millions of crops and animals’ genetic materials. They also preserve coral fragments in water tanks in a controlled environment.
Seed banks are also a form of gene banks. They store seeds to protect plant diversity and increase rates of survival. It also raises disease resistance and nutritional quality. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is the most famous example.
In-vitro bank is another type of gene bank. It preserves buds, Cells, and tissues in a semi-solid or liquid nutrient medium. Research shows that it protects and fosters the slow growth of seedless plants.
In-Situ Biodiversity Conservation
In-situ biodiversity conservation refers to the maintenance and recovery of endangered species in their natural habitat. It doesn't move wildlife out of its natural habitat. Instead, it protects it and its habitats.
Using in-situ biodiversity conservation methods is more secure and cost-effective. The perfect example of an in-situ conservation technique is National Parks. National parks are land expanses of protected areas in the environment. There are also smaller state parks and private reserves.
The sustainable management of large areas of land and ecosystems also protects many wildlife populations. It also ensures the continuity of natural evolution and selection, facilitating the development of new communities, ecosystems, and genetic materials.
Countries with protected areas of land also develop future economic resources and benefits. However, the development of conservation areas doesn’t mean its biodiversity- native plants, animals, and organisms automatically have protection. Protected areas are still at risk of degradation caused by human activities or natural disasters1.
An example is the near-destruction of the entire habitat of the golden tamarin lion in 1992 by fire. Four categories of natural disasters could destroy protected regions. They are:
- Random events in the survival and reproduction of native and non-native species can cause demographic uncertainty.
- Also, unpredictable weather changes, food supply, and predatory and parasite populations can cause environmental decline.
- Droughts, fires, and floods also contribute to the degradation of the environment.
- A genetic shift or inbreeding can change animals’ reproductive probabilities and survival rates.
Another threat to the survival of conservation areas is urbanization. Human activities like deforestation contribute to the decline of organisms, natural resources, and animals found on the land.
7 Strategies Used To Protect Wildlife Ecosystems
1. Habitat conservation
Biodiversity protection strategies must include the protection of critical habitat. It could be a wetland, forestry, or other bodies of nature. These strategies should also involve plans to protect land and ecology from human activities and environmental conditions contributing to declines.
It should also include plans to restore degraded habitats through reforestation, wetland restoration, or national park creation. Habitat conservation will help protect endangered species and wildlife populations.
2. Sustainable land-use practices
Another way to conserve biodiversity is by adding sustainable development to its protection strategies. Sustainable use of land and natural resources can prevent critical habitat loss and fragmentation.
It includes promoting sustainable agriculture by reducing the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. It also involves eco-friendly technology in forestry and other areas of land use. Sustainable land use should also include the reduction of human pollution, disturbance, and other human activities that disturb nature.
3. Researching and monitoring trends
It is necessary to research the trends and status of wildlife communities to conserve biodiversity adequately. Research will help identify opportunities for conservation and inform policy and management decisions.
Including these two activities in your strategies will also make it easier to spot and handle emerging threats to the ecosystem.
4. Public education and awareness
It is strenuous to protect the environment when the public is unaware of how their actions affect nature's future generations. Public education and awareness encourage responsible and sustainable behaviors. It promotes a deep sense of connection and appreciation of nature and wildlife.
Local communities can learn about wildlife species and their characteristics through outreach programs, school programs, and public awareness campaigns. Educating people should be one of the crucial parts of your strategies because it encourages them to protect wildlife and their habitats.
5. Establishment and management of wildlife areas
Another conservation plan you can include in your protection strategies is the creation of habitats for wildlife populations. Wildlife areas provide a safe space for animals to rest and frolic around. Some wildlife areas are the national park, zoo, aquarium, and garden.
People can create spaces for wildlife on a smaller scale by making their property wildlife-friendly. You can convert your backyard into a supporting home for birds, bees, butterflies, cats, reptiles, and other species and plant small trees, native plants, and shrubs that will provide shelter and serve as food.
6. Plant trees
Next on our list of strategies is reforestation. We cut down trees to create forest products like furniture, books, kitchen towels, etc. The felling of trees disrupts wildlife populations because we destroy their habitats and food sources.
Planting trees can reduce declining areas of the earth and protect endangered species. Tree planting programs help provide the earth and wildlife with habitats and resources needed for survival. Also, it helps reduce the risk of climate change by offsetting carbon emissions.
Related read: Become a Tree Planting Volunteer.
7. Recycle products to protect nature.
Recycling practices are an essential part of protecting and conserving biodiversity. It reduces the demand for new products, which reduces the demand for natural resources. Recycling also protects wildlife and reduces the waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
It reduces the risk of a climate crisis by reducing the waste we produce. It preserves the overall health of the earth and its organisms.
There are lots of ways to protect wildlife species from getting to the brink of extinction. One of those ways is to create a conservation strategy to guide conservation efforts. Wildlife resource conservation is vital for the earth's well-being.
Wildlife species conservation can mitigate against the loss of keystone species and non-invasive species, reduce pollution, and protect nature. It is also a means of supporting local communities and contributing to the economy’s finances.