Heritage, Values and Nature Conservation

Term Paper, 2010

8 Pages, Grade: 1,6


Table of Contents

1. Values & Perspectives

2. Objectives

3. Values in Nature Conservation & Recreation

A Personal Conclusion


In 1987, the Brundtland Commission published the ground-breaking report titled: “Our common future”. The paradigm was shifted to sustainability, confronting the humanity with its responsibility to establish a development that 'meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' (Brundtland 1987).

There is hardly any realm untouched by the notion of sustainable development, be it of cultural, environmental, social or political nature. Simplistically it can be stated that we aim at passing on our legacy with minimal losses. This goal was not generated in 1987, but rather is an inherited desire to every human being. There is consensus that cultural and biological diversity is a great part of this heritage, and that globalization and consequent homogenization is jeopardizing it. Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO (1999) formulated the dilemma.

“Peoples and cultures that have existed for thousands of years in equilibrium with the natural environment are disappearing along with the ecosystems that sustained them. The loss of diversity is debilitating the biosphere of which humanity is a part. At the same time, the rapid destruction of age-old cultures and traditions is diminishing our collective repertoire of cultural response. “

The repertoire of cultural response is characterized by partially very different settings of values and underlying beliefs. However, varying those are, most cultures and religions have a strong history of reverence for nature and adjudicate it with an intrinsic value. Bethinking of these common grounds, today´s ideology of utilitarianism and capitalism dominating political decision-making could be changed for the better.

1. Values & Perspectives

Different values result in a different handling and perception of one’s environment. This implies that each ethnicity, social group and especially stakeholder has its own conception of appropriate conservation in a given setting.

Here is a range of cross-cultural values that underlie an ethic for sustainability and conservation (Fien 2000, Gunneng 2010, modified):

1) Social Justice Values

- Meeting basic human needs
- Ensuring intergenerational equity
- Respecting human rights

2) Conservation Values:

- Conserving biodiversity
- Respecting interspecies equity
- Quality of life and intrinsic value
- Respecting the interdependence of all things

3) Cultural Values:

- National Identity
- Ancestoral worship
- Inspirational/ Recreational

2. Objectives

Beside an underlying and individual set off values, each actor on the stage of nature conservation has an overriding objective, be it of professional, personal, cultural, political or social nature. The actor becomes a stakeholder. Each of us has a hierarchy of expectations and objectives when enfacing nature in a particular situation. A special objective can be best anatomized in the Ecosystem Services seeked for (Carpenter et al. 2006, MEA 2005, modified):

Provisioning services

- Primary production (crops, wild foods etc.)
- Water
- Pharmaceuticals, biochemicals, and industrial products
- Energy (hydropower, biomass fuels)

Regulating services

- Carbon sequestration and climate regulation
- Waste decomposition and detoxification
- Purification of water and air
- Generation & preservation of soil and its fertility
- Moderation of weather extremes and their impacts

Protective services

- Pest and disease control
- Mitigation of droughts and floods
- Reduction of erosion (shores, soil…)
- Filtration of ultraviolet rays

Supporting services

- Nutrient dispersal and cycling
- Seed dispersal
- Pollination

Cultural services

- Cultural, intellectual and spiritual inspiration
- Recreational experiences (including ecotourism)
- Scientific discovery

3. Values in Nature Conservation & Recreation

Nature-based recreation is a fast-growing and economically promising niche in tourism. When it became mainstream, worried voices arouse from scientific background, NGOs and private stakeholders alike, predicting that Protected Areas might not be able to cope with the masses they are attracting. On a first glimpse the aims of conservation and recreation seem to be compatible, as the protection of nature grants the continuance of the single most important resource outdoor-recreation is based upon. However, in current literature there are many related concerns controversially discussed. The contestations we will discuss can be categorized in the following three major questions (Backhaus 2010, modified):

- What are the concepts of different actors concerning nature and it´s conservation that are interacting in the context of protected areas?
- How is the globalized paradigm of conservation affecting conservation on a local, regional and national level?
- Is there a conflict of interest and values between tourism, the local use of environment and conservation needs?

Starting in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) has become the major international instrument, aiming at the sustainable use and protection of the global natural resources. The convention established globally applicable approaches, but recognized that conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development can only reached if the close interdependence between cultures and ecosystems is maintained.

Global environmental policy frameworks and local initiatives only can be successfully negotiated if differences in perceptions and assessments are understood. In the quest for a global solution to the conservation of biodiversity, local knowledge, customary practices, social values and religious beliefs provide a foundation upon which practical solutions responsive to the needs of the humans involved should be based on. A cross-cultural concept of conservation to produce more balanced, interactive and knowledge-enhancing relations needs to be further advanced in future environmental governance. (Maass 2008)

Approaches to nature conservation and issues in general environmental context may be very different on a local, regional and/or national scale from the global discourse, set by the state-of-the-art science and management approaches. Reproaches that, Ecotourism and related conservational concepts are a mere western construct (Cater 2007) cannot be totally dismissed. As globalization is proceeding on an ever increasing pace, internationally operating frameworks on conservation like the CBD, and institutions like UNEP (United Nations Environment Development Programme) or organizations like the IUCN (International n Union for Conservation of Nature) are of vital importance to coordinate world-wide conservation efforts. However, it should be understood that there is no attempt to replace local, culturally and historically matured conservation and management approaches. Globally formulated conservation ethics and strategies should rather be seen as guidelines to deal with newly evolved challenges, and named institutions as platforms of communication, expertise exchange and help, where local approaches face problems. Not patronage and standardization are the means by which we will preserve our diverse natural heritage, but by benefitting from and preserving our equally diverse cultural heritage.

A Personal Conclusion

There cannot be a single right answer to the questions we were focusing on. Different conceptions and objectives of all interacting stakeholders are best settled on a case to case basis. While reconciliation still seems farfetched, our common natural heritage in its integrity undoubtedly is one of the greatest assets we have, and should thus be of a value (monetary or other) large enough to be preserved. In this context, one of the biggest opportunities evolving from nature-based tourism is the accompanied value enhancement of nature itself. A price tag (Daily et al. 2000) (commodification, willingness-to-pay, opportunity costs etc.) on our natural heritage is from an ethical viewpoint an embarrassment for our societies’ ideology, but could proof to be an essential tool in Nature Conservation. It is therefore my personal opinion that tourism and conservation can benefit each other tremendously, if managed appropriately.


Excerpt out of 8 pages


Heritage, Values and Nature Conservation
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
tourism, nature conservation, heritage, values, natural resource recreation, national parks, nature tourism
Quote paper
Alice Mercier (Author), 2010, Heritage, Values and Nature Conservation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/914044


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