What does 'conservation' mean?

An Introduction to the Myers Allotment conservation project

What is Conservation?

The word conservation is one which we often hear, but what does it really mean? A dictionary will explain it as `to keep entire' or `to preserve'. Here we shall think of it as to `keep' in the sense of `to look after' or `to take care of'.

Let's think about the different meanings of the two words: conserving and preserving. Fruits and vegetables can be preserved - that is, they can be kept from going bad by being made into jams and pickles or by canning or freezing.

So how is conservation different? This word is most often used when we speak of things in nature, such as wildlife, trees, water and the land itself. A flower is preserved if it is pressed between the pages of a book. It is conserved if it is protected to continue growing in its natural habitat.

Why do you think we need to look after natural things? Can't they look after themselves?

Many people think that our countryside will always look the same as it does now - and that the animals and plants we know will always be around - even after we've all died. Sadly, this may not be true. Human beings have always relied on nature for their survival. For food we need plants and animals. We need the land to grow the food as well as to provide materials such as stone and wood for our buildings. We fish the rivers, lakes and seas to supply other types of food. And we mine below the earth's surface to find important substances such as oil, coal and metal ores. As well as making use of nature to help us survive, we also use it for pleasure and sport. We go for walks in the countryside, we camp, we climb the mountains, go cycling - all sorts of activities that make use of nature and the landscape.

Think of other ways we use nature in our daily lives and for pleasure.

Let's think about how we humans can cause changes in our world. We don't live in a museum but in a living, growing and changing environment. If there is a good balance between the needs of a man and the needs of nature, there should be few problems. But there are too many of us, all wanting too much and taking too much from the natural world. So something needs to be done. The balance needs to be restored.

Conservation should allow positive changes to take place while, at the same time, trying to look after what we have. Conservation concerns people all over the world. Hundreds of books, magazines and reports are written about it.

Examples of some of the habitats on Myers Allotment

Broadleaved woodlands are scattered throughout the Silverdale. These are often made up of traditional British tree species such as oak and ash. In contrast to the `artificial forest' of foreign trees planted for commercial reasons by the Forestry Authority and private landowners, these are of local species and are vital for the survival of certain types of flower, plant and animal.

Grassland is an important Myers Allotment habitat. The quality of the soil and the climate determine what type of grass thrives and this, in turn, affects the species it can support. Of special importance is the once-common, old fashioned hay meadow, rich in various species - especially wild flowers and butterflies.

What influence could upset the needs of conservation in each of the various habitats? You could consider influences such as farming, forestry, tourism, industry and just plain neglect.

When discussing conservation there is a danger of limiting it to consideration of natural resources. Man-made features may also require careful treatment if we are to save our heritage. Some buildings, settlements, archaeological sites and monuments may be given conservation status. If this happens they should then be protected from further damage and decay.

Useful Addresses

  1. The Countryside Management Service - Old Station Building, Arnside, via Carnforth, Lancashire, LA5 OHG, 01524 761034
  2. Leighton Moss Visitors Centre, RSPB - Myers Farm, Storrs Lane, Silverdale, via Carnforth, Lancashire, 01524 701601
  3. Lancashire Wildlife Trust - Cuerden Valley Park, Shady Lane, Bamber Bridge, Preston, Lancashire, PR5 6AU, 01772 324129
  4. Lake District National Park Authority (Education Service) - National Park Visitor Centre, Brockhole, Windermere, Cumbria LA 23 1LJ
  5. Council for National Parks - 45 Shelton Street, London WC2H 9HJ
  6. Countryside Commission - North West Regional Office, 7th Floor, Bridgewater House, Whitworth Street, Manchester, M1 6TL, 0161 237 1061
  7. Cumbria Wildlife Trust - National Park Visitor Centre, Brockhole, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1LJ
  8. English Heritage - The Castle, Carlisle
  9. Friends of the Lake District - 3 Yard 77, Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria
  10. National Trust - The Hollens, Grasmere, Cumbria
  11. English Nature - North West Team, Pier House, Wallgate, Wigan, WN3 4AL, 01942 820342