The rapid decline in the quantity and quality of natural resources has led to a concern for their management and conservation.

Natural resources are raw materials obtained or derived from nature. They are classified into renewable and non-renewable resources. Renewable resources are replaced from time to time by natural processes, like multiplication, recycling, etc. They are, in this sense, inexhaustible. Forests, pastures, wildlife and aquatic life come in this category.

However, it is necessary to properly plan and manage their use. Non-renewable resources such as minerals, metals, soil, coal, oil deposits, etc., are available in limited amounts and in no manner can be rebuilt or increased.

If man expects to have a future on the earth, he must use the resources in the most prudent manner possible. Conservation does not mean hoarding. It means the wise management of resources to provide a continuous supply for a long time into the future. This implies continuous renewal of a resources and recovering, recycling or reusing the products.


Conservation of a natural area means its maintenance in a natural state for the purpose of enjoyment or study in order to understand and appreciate the complexities of ecological laws.

1) Concept of Conservation

Conservation is a broad concept with involves not only the scientific but ethical, moral, economic and political aspects as well. Conservation has been variously defined. Conservation for the petroleum engineer is largely minimizing of waste from incomplete extraction and for a forester it may be sustained yield of products. In all cases, conservation deals with judicious development and manner of use of natural resources of all kinds.

A generalized definition of conservation is “the maximization overtime of the net social benefits in good and services from resources”. Although it is technologically based, conservation cannot escape socially determined values.

Conservation may also be defined as the achievement of the highest sustainable quality of living for mankind by the rational utilization of the environment, protection of nature to enrich the life of man and the control or elimination of environmental pollution in its many manifestations.


Conversation advocates practices that will perpetuate the resources of the earth on which man depends or in whose continued existence he takes an interest. Conversation derives its tenets from a knowledge of ecology, the science concerned with interrelationship between living things and their environment.

But the question arises, why there is a need for conversation? The reasons are:

a) World population is increasing at an alarming rate,

b) World resources are being used up at an increasing rate due to increase in population,


c) Pollutions is increasing with the passage of time, and

d) Damage caused by human activities is sometimes irreversible.

Conservation involves perpetuation of the natural environment of man including the infinite resources of air, water, soil and life forms. Conversation involves the collective responsibility of governments, private organizations, industries and individuals and the setting aside of funds, finances for ecological research and execution of conservation projects.

2) Aims and Principles of Conservation

The aims of conservation are two-fold:


i) To ensure the preservation of a quality environment that considers aesthetics and recreational as well as product needs.

ii) To ensure a continuous yield of useful plants, animals and materials by establishing a balanced cycle of harvest and renewal.

Principles of Conservation

Conservation is achieved through measures adopted in favor of a natural resource in order to increase its longevity and improve usage patterns. Some such measures are as follows:


a) Rational use of the resources:

Rational use of the resources is one of the concepts is conservation o natural resources in an essentially undisturbed condition because they are of scientific interest, have aesthetic appeal or have recreational value. Preservation also serves an ecological purpose by maintaining the function of the total environment, for example, protection of forests assures a sustained yield of water into urban reservoirs, and protection of estuaries perpetuates ocean fishery.

But rational use is not just preservation. It also implies the direct use of resources for their commodity or recreational value. Thus, harvesting of forest crops, livestock grazing of grassland, catching fish and hunting wild animals can be considered a legitimate part of the rational use f natural resources, if they are carried out in such a way that the resource is perpetuated and not endangered.

b) Sustained yield:


Concept of sustained yield is involved in these activities. This means cropping the annual surplus of individuals so as not to endanger the breeding stock of game animals or fish. Similarly, tree cutting or grazing of grass should remove only the annual increment and no more.

c) Restoration:

Restoration is another important aspect of conservation. It is a widely familiar conservation measure, which is essentially the correction of past careless activities that have impaired the productivity of the resource base. Deforests areas and mined and barren lands can be revegetated with some effort. Depleted animal and plant populations can recover if they are accorded protection. This measure is familiar in modern soil and water conservation practices applied to agricultural land.

Restoration is possible, however, only as long as species are protected and genetic diversity of life is maintained. When species become extinct, the restoration of past conditions becomes impossible.

d) Protection:

Protection of natural resources from commercial exploitation to prolong their use for recreation, watershed protection, and scientific study. This is the concept underlying the establishment and protection of parks and reserves of many kinds.

e) Reutilisation :

Reutilisation is the reuse of waste materials, as in the use of industrial water after it has been purified and cooled. The same process becomes recycling if the water material requires minor treatment before it can be used, as in the use of scrap iron in steel manufacture.

f) Substitution:

Substitution, an important conservation measure, has two aspects: (i) the use of a common resource instead of a rare one when it is for the same purpose, (ii) the use of a renewable rather than a non-renewable resource when conditions permit.

g) Allocation:

Allocation concerns the strategy of use- the best use of a resource. For many resources and their products, the market price decides as to the use a resource is put, but under certain instances, general welfare may dictate otherwise. The allocation of resources may be controlled by government through the use of quotas, rationing and outright permits.

h) Integration:

Integration in resource management is a conservation measure because it maximizes over a period of time, the sum of goods and services that can be had from a resource, or a resource complex such as river valley. This is preferable to maximize certain benefits from a single resource at the expense of other benefits or other resources. Integration is a central objective of planning.