Forests, Parks, and Land Conservation
Protecting land is more than just preserving picturesque landscapes. Plants, animals, and humans depend on the systems nature provides—nutrient cycling, water purification, and pollination, among many others—to survive. Rapid development makes conservation an imperative. The WILD Foundation has proposed that we need to protect at least half of a given eco-region in order to ensure the long-term survival of the planet’s biodiversity. With a growing human population using more of the planet’s resources, and climate change affecting habitats around the world, land conservation has never been more important.
Deforestation has claimed almost 20% of the massive Amazon rainforest, taking with it countless yet-to-be-discovered plant and animal species. Globally, deforestation results in the elimination of an area of forest the size of England each year. Forests, often called the “lungs of the earth”, provide invaluable clean air and water, medicine, food, climate regulation, and opportunities for recreation. Invasive species, poor forest management, and increased danger of wildfires puts forests at risk of greater loss.
Some of the most important ecosystems in the world are in danger now. For example, oil and other mineral development activities imperil the Arctic, home to many of the world’s most threatened species. The Galapagos Islands host many species found nowhere else on earth, but invasive species, overuse of natural resources, and detrimental human impacts have put the island’s future in peril. Important plants and animals can’t be protected unless we also protect the habitats where they live.
American agricultural land is rapidly disappearing to development—at the rate of forty acres per hour! When these lands are turned into housing and roads, they can no longer serve as farmland to protect our food security, water quality, and the local environment.
Estuaries, which are coastal water bodies made up of freshwater and saltwater, serve as buffer zones for dangerous storms and habitats for diverse species. Like other ecosystems, human development and pollution threaten their continued survival.
Recognizing the social value of open spaces, land conservationists also protect historic sites and parks big and small. Green spaces in cities have been proven to encourage healthy social interaction and pedestrian activity while cutting down on sedentary illnesses and crime. National parks offer hiking, camping, and sightseeing, but insufficient funding puts these treasured places at risk.
Each of us can help preserve lands for future generations and for the health of the planet. EarthShare is committed to supporting our member organizations’ essential work on land conservation. Your support of these organizations can help save parks, habitats, and ecosystems around the country and the world.
Get involved by:
- Reduce your impact using Leave No Trace principles on camping trips and hikes
- Listen to Maps, Magic and Medicine, a serialized audio-doc from the Amazon, by the Amazon Conservation Team
- Learn about forest carbon and its role in climate solutions
- Use Forest Sustainability Council (FSC) certified paper products
- Watch Conservation International's 360 degree video Under the Canopy to experience the Amazon like never before
- Share this Kids Love Trees! video with the little ones in your life to help them learn what forests do for us