What Is Conservation of Vegetation?
Conservation of vegetation refers to the process of ensuring that native plants, trees, and grasses are protected in certain areas. This helps to ensure that the various types of wildlife that live in an area have food and shelter, and also helps to protect biodiversity. Conservation of vegetation also helps to protect the watershed in various ways, and can prevent erosion and storm runoff, which can both be significant problems in certain areas. Vegetation is conserved in a number of ways, from planting trees and other native plants, to restricting the type of development that can take place in an area, to managing wildlife and the spread of invasive species.
As with most aspects of environmental work, conservation of vegetation requires extensive knowledge about native plants, and the types of wildlife that rely on them. This helps to ensure that any management work that is done, or any plantings of trees or other types of vegetation, are in keeping with what would naturally grow in an area. Making a mistake in this area can have significant and far-reaching impacts on other plants and wildlife. In many areas where development, logging, or agricultural practices have affected the natural vegetation, however, new plantings are the best way to conserve vegetation and begin restoring the environment.
Future development restrictions on a piece of land can also serve as an example of vegetation conservation. Land may be preserved for a number of reasons, from scenic value to watershed or habitat protection, among many others. Conservation easements, forest management plans, or regional land-use restrictions are all used to help conserve certain valuable areas, and ensure their lasting success. Some of these allow for land management, such as sustainable forest management for timber resources. When done correctly, forestry can be a great example of conservation of vegetation.
Sometimes it will be necessary to conserve vegetation in other ways. In some cases, an overabundance of wildlife can negatively impact vegetation in a region; the white-tailed deer, for example, can decimate a forest, and negatively impact species composition in just a few years. Managed hunting of certain species is sometimes required for conservation of vegetation. Invasive plant species may also need to be managed in various ways, from herbicide applications, to controlled burning, to the physical removal of individual plants, as they can grow quickly and strangle any other native vegetation that would otherwise be growing successfully on a piece of land.
@MrsPramm - It shouldn't be about economic reasons though. The diversity of vegetation on planet Earth needs to be conserved because diversity is a good thing in itself, rather than because it's a good thing economically.
One of the best initiatives in the world at the moment are the different versions of seed banks that are being developed to attempt to save as many plants as possible. People call them gifts for the next generation, but honestly, heritage is not a gift. It's a right and the fact that we have to take extra steps to preserve it is a travesty.
@KoiwiGal - Well, the same thing is basically still happening to the rain-forests all over the world. It's such a fragile ecosystem that once the trees are removed it takes hundreds of years to return to what it was, but the land can hardly support anything else. Usually they get something like five years of farming from it before agriculture collapses and they end up having to cut down more rain-forest.
And meanwhile, a living rain-forest is a valuable economic entity, with tourism value and so forth. But once it's gone, it's gone forever as far as we're concerned. Birds and frogs can maybe be bred in captivity, but you can't just replace thousand year old canopy.
I actually think in a lot of ways that the conservation of vegetation is even more important than conserving wildlife. And I'm not just talking about being a tree hugger or anything like that.
The Dust Bowl situation in the 1930's in the United States was caused because people had ignored the fact that they needed a certain kind of plant in place on the prairies. They ripped it all out and replace it with grass so that cattle could graze, and the result was years of dust storms when the land dried out.
It always seems like a good idea in the short term to replace native plants with whatever cash crop will grow the fastest, but in the long term it's shooting yourself (and everyone else) in the foot.
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