|Teaching Conservation in Developing Nations (Peace Corps, 1977)|
The natural resources of any country---its land, its rivers, its forests, and the like---are crucial to supplying the population with such basic necessities as food, water, and energy.
Unfortunately, human activities, particularly in the sectors of agriculture and forestry, often involve the destruction of these resources. Clearing of land for grazing and crop production, when followed by over-grazing oh improper agricultural practices, leads to a never-ending need to clear more, and often less stable, land. Such overutilization and deforestation of land (especially if combined with a rapid increase in human population and the demands that accompany such an increase) destroys the ecosystems necessary to human survival, silting up rivers, destroying watersheds, rendering soil unproductive, and ultimately leading to famine and the spread of disease.
This does not mean that land should not be developed to meet basic human needs. What it does mean, however, is that there is an immediate need to balance planning for development with conservation practices. Reforestation, rotational grazing, management of domestic herds, watershed management, development of alternative protein and renewable energy sources, improvement of sanitation, and wildlife management are a few of the ways in which natural resources can be used wisely or restored.
Before people will accept any of these methods as necessary, however, they must have an awareness of the environment and an understanding of the reasons for conservation of natural resources. This manual, it is hoped, will provide Peace Corps Volunteers and other field workers with ideas, activities, and resources for incorporating conservation education into their day-to-day community activities. For awareness and understanding stimulated by conservation education can lead to interest, participation, and, hopefully, action on the part of people who are becoming more and more dependent upon the sound use of their own natural resources.
James A. Sherburne
Smithsonian/Peace Corps Environmental Program