Major Challenges Faced by Environmental Conservation
Air, land, and water environments consist of numerous vital natural resources that have been used to produce food and other necessities of life, and sustain the majority of living organisms since the Earth came into existence.
Human activities tied to the use of natural resources, especially during the past few decades, have degraded most air, land, and water environments and caused a ton of environmental problems that have held a firm grip on the world.
The negative impacts of environmental problems have always necessitated the call for effective implementation of environmental conservation practices which are aimed at managing, protecting, and preserving natural environments (land, air, and water) and ecosystems, or restoring degraded natural environments and ecosystems to their natural state.
However, attempts to implement environmental conservation practices usually encounter stiff challenges that have made it difficult to eliminate or remediate environmental problems such as soil erosion, desertification, climate change and severe weather, increased droughts, global warming, increasing ocean acidity, environmental (air, land, and water) pollution, loss of biodiversity, aquifer depletion, etc.
Generally speaking, the efforts that have been made to achieve environmental conservation goals have faced the following major challenges:
1. Ignorance and lack of concern
Many people who work in or interact with the environment have short-term view-points regarding the future uses of the environment, and they are often ignorant, apathetic, and unconcerned or unaware of how some of their activities are degrading the environment.
As a result, air, land, and water environments degrade so gradually and insidiously that the impacts are easily ignored or overlooked until they become big environmental problems long after preventive action should have been taken by implementing environmental conservation practices.
The environmental conservation practices that are required to prevent environmental pollution and degradation are delayed or not employed because of indifference; at times, some landowners or communities that own a particular natural resource (like land or water) claim that they have the right to use it as they see fit.
2. Economic obstacles
Generally speaking, the unwillingness of people, governments, or organizations to employ environmental conservation practices is mostly based on economics. Before major decisions are taken to apply environmental conservation practices, economic considerations are made; this usually involves evaluating the total cost that would be required to conserve an air, water, or soil environment.
The costs for conservation are usually on the high end. In many instances, because of insufficient funds—especially in developing or less developed nations that have low standards of living—people, communities, governments, or NGOs find it difficult or impossible to finance and implement environmental conservation practices.
3. Unreadiness to deviate from traditional or cultural practices
Some people or communities have inherited cultural or traditional practices that continue to be practiced in their environments; unsurprisingly, they aren’t ready to relinquish such practices in order to eliminate or reduce their environmental problems.
Take for instance, situations whereby many farmers continue to plough farmlands in ways that completely cover crop residues and make it easier for rain, runoff, and wind to wash away topsoil and nutrients, and thus cause nutrient depletion and soil erosion.
Because some people or communities place a great deal of pride in certain traditions or cultural practice, they aren’t ready to push tradition or culture aside and employ scientific or conservation ethics that can help to retain residue and consequently reduce or prevent soil erosion and water pollution.
4. Insecurity and uncertainty
Many people in developing countries struggle to make a living while employing long-lived traditional or cultural practices that have degraded the environment in the long run.
Some people usually feel insecure and uncertain about modern conservation practices, and believe that—although science has proven that the practices would benefit the environment in the long run—the practices may end up making people become poorer or financially worse in the short run.
Napier and Sommers (1993) noted that, if the benefits of environmental conservation practices are expected to be delayed or distributed over several years, then the people who are asked to apply them should be guaranteed that they won’t starve to death if the environmental conservation practices fail.