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NATURE NOTES – Number 44 May 14, 2022
As the weather warms up, you might find yourself planning more hikes, camping trips, and even summer camp. In addition to exploring nature, these events provide an opportunity to help maintain and restore our natural ecosystem through…
Our Current Topic: Conservation projects …and Awards.
It may not seem necessary to define what a conservation project is. As long as Scouting has been around, Scouts have worked on service projects. Many of those service projects take place outside. Those must be conservation projects, right?
A conservation project is a service project that uses principles and practices from conservation science to address or prevent an environmental problem. Let’s break this definition down a bit to see why conservation projects are so important.
Conservation projects address or prevent environmental problems. As you walk along a trail, you might notice that the trail seems not to be well shaded. You have not yet identified an environmental problem. Lack of shade is a potential symptom of an environmental problem. Perhaps there is an invasive species or pest in the area that is impacting tree growth. Perhaps there is an erosion problem. Or perhaps the area is being appropriately managed. You could, after all, be walking through a grassland! Part of the conservation project process is demonstrating that the symptoms of an environmental problem that you identify are actually evidence of an environmental problem.
Conservation projects use principles and practices from conservation science. Further investigation of the trail you walked on that lacked shade may show that there has been a significant loss of forest cover that is negatively impacting the ecosystem. The next step is to consider solutions to this problem that follow sound conservation practices. Instead of immediately deciding that planting trees is the solution, principles of conservation science would dictate investigating soil health, drainage, human impact, and other factors that may contribute to the loss of forest cover. Planting trees in an area with poor soil quality expends time and effort without effectively addressing the environmental problem.
Not every service project that occurs outside needs to be a conservation project. Picking up trash or planting a garden are certainly worthwhile efforts, but they do not provide long term solutions to environmental problems. Conservation projects are often rewarding because they give Scouts the satisfaction of really understanding why and how the work that they are doing is positively impacting the environment. So the next time your unit is working on a service project outdoors, ask yourself, could we think a bit more about this project and turn it into a conservation project? Attached is a Planning Sheet that might help you in your conservation project planning.
1 attachment - Planning Sheet
(Thanks to William O’Brochta for writing this NATURE NOTE.)