What Is Conservation? The Four Main Types Uncovered

Written by The Leap on 20 / 10 / 2014

Gap Year Advice

If you’ve been looking into gap year options recently, you’ve probably heard the word ‘conservation’ being thrown about quite a lot. Perhaps you’re wondering: what it exactly does conservation mean? Let me help you out there...

'Conservation is the scientific study of nature, with the aim of protecting species, their habitats and ecosystems from extinction'.

The Different Types of Conservation

Now that that’s cleared up, you’re no doubt wanting to know which different types of conservation exist, aren’t you? Well, once again, help is at hand! I’ve listed four of the main conservation types below and provided a bit of information about each one.

1. Environmental Conservation

Environmental conservation refers to the environment being used in a way that is sustainable. By using the environment sustainably, it won’t be destroyed for good, meaning we can go on benefitting from it for years to come - phew! Naturally, environmental conservation comes in many different forms, as there are a fair few areas to cover, from recycling household waste, to replanting trees, to educating others about how to take care of the environment themselves.

By protecting our surroundings like this, we are in turn protecting ourselves, as in keeping the earth healthy, we are preserving it for humans. Don’t worry if you haven’t got time to venture to the other side of the world in order to help save a species of whales though, as any progress is good progress.

You can play your part by simply using public transport to cut back on pollution and ensuring that you recycle. Keep it green folks!

This one is for me...

2. Animal conservation

Animal conservation is the practice of protecting endangered wild animal species, along with their habitats. Across the world there are animal conservationists, who work to identify species that are in need of help and protect them, which often involves keeping animals in captivity until they have a safe place to live in the wild.

Sadly, many species have become extinct over time and many more are now endangered, therefore it’s essential that we find ways to protect them and conserve their natural habitats.

So what’s making our lovely creatures of the earth disappear? There are a number of threats that animals are facing, one of which is global warming. The changes caused by this phenomenon are dangerous, as so many animals have specific habitat needs, meaning global warming could lead to a severe decrease in wildlife species.

Natural occurrences, such as floods, earthquakes, forest fires and lightening also contribute towards this decrease, but shamefully it’s us humans that play the biggest part *guilty face*. People hunt and trade in endangered species, release toxic chemicals into the water, air and soil, and pollute natural ecosystems.

If, like me, you’re passionate about preventing the extinction of animals, you can take part in animal conservation projects, whereby you can work on projects such as game reserve management, turtle protection, elephant rehabilitation and much more.

Tell me more about animal conservation

3. Marine Conservation

As you might have already guessed, marine conservation is the protection of species and ecosystems that live in oceans and seas (who’d have thought it, eh). It involves protecting these species through reducing human activities like fishing, whaling and water pollution.

Regrettably, we often take the health of marine life for granted and, due to these practices, the ocean is extremely vulnerable to harm. There are several ways in which you can help protect marine ecosystems, such as mapping habitats, carrying out vital research into the state of the oceans and the wildlife that live there, and educating local communities- not all is lost it seems!

Where can i do this?

4. Human Conservation

This is perhaps one type of conservation that you won’t yet have heard of, however it’s also the one you can relate to most, being human and all. People too are in danger and certain procedures need to be put in place to keep them alive.

Take the Tsa’chila tribes in Ecuador, for example, who were once prolific in the region, but now just seven remote settlements exist. These communities are at risk of losing their traditional culture, due to the ever-expanding influence of Europeans and North Americans.

By living amongst communities such as these, learning about their customs and traditions, and helping them improve their standards of living, you can work towards conserving those humans in need.

Tell me where i can help


So to sum things up, conservation is all about keeping Planet Earth happy and healthy by taking care of our environment and the animals and people that inhabit it. Keen to make a difference? Check out these conservation jobs, which include working with turtles, bears and rhinos - who wouldn’t want to help care for those?!

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