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Fossil Record Could Aid In Conservation: Humanist Approach To Conservation Discussed By Experts

12 February 2017, 1:00 pm EST By Athena Chan Tech Times
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It is difficult to deny the destructive and abusive effects of human activity on nature. As such, the Earth's landscape and the biodiversity of wildlife, the very creatures that humans share the planet with, are the first to suffer.

Politically and scientifically speaking, it is not easy to find a single solution to conservation. But today experts in different fields have come together for this very reason.

To advance conservation efforts, these experts believe that critical shifts in thinking are required to address the problem. A group of conservation biologists, paleobiologists, geologists, lawyers, policymakers, writers, and ecologists from countries both developed and developing have done just that.

Looking at conservation from a different standpoint, the group believes that combining paleobiology with conservation biology could provide solutions to conservation problems.

Using Fossils To Move Forward

What this group of experts believe is that — to move forward with conservation efforts — fossils may provide a clue as to the many changes that could possibly occur in the years to come.

Authors of the publication explain that by studying fossils from the past, we may see that each change in the planet sees different species come and go, and landscapes change drastically in certain periods of time. Further, the vast information contained in fossils could provide information on how we can best preserve the already changed landscapes and ecosystems.

That being said, the group of experts are urging conservationists to focus on conserving ecosystems just as much as specific species.

A Humanist Approach To Conservation

The human impact on nature is undeniable, yes. What the authors of the study believe is that instead of looking at and conserving an idealized version of nature, what humans need to also conserve are the already changed versions of nature that resulted from years of human interaction and natural changes. Such new environments are classified as "novel ecosystems" that did not naturally occur before the industrial age. The experts point out that it is unlikely to revert these systems back to their original states before human interaction, hence are already new environments that need to be protected as well.

Whether the ecosystem is unchanged through the years or novel due to the changes, experts believe that both need to be studied and conserved for their merits as an ecosystem such as air and water sources and purification as well as agricultural use. This is having in mind that humans do need most, if not all, resources from nature, so the conservation efforts suggested in the study do have a firm hold on human conservation at its center as well.

Root Of The Conservation Crisis

"Our ideas are well-motivated in science, but must account for the realities people living in these landscapes experience each day," says Elizabeth Hadley, professor of biology at Stanford University and co-author of the study.

That's not saying that the authors are disregarding the destructive effects of humans on nature as they have also stated that in order to truly love forward in conservation efforts, it is also relevant to immediately address what they call the root of the current conservation crisis which are rapid human population growth, over-consumption especially in developed countries and climate change.

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