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What is the history of the conservation and preservation movements?

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The history of conservation and preservation movements is vast. A full description of its history is outside of the scope of Homework Help. However, I will give a brief history of the major elements of conservation and preservation movements.

By the late seventeenth century, the forests in England had all...

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The history of conservation and preservation movements is vast. A full description of its history is outside of the scope of Homework Help. However, I will give a brief history of the major elements of conservation and preservation movements.

By the late seventeenth century, the forests in England had all but disappeared. Many began to worry that timber resources would be gone forever if nothing was done to preserve them. John Evelyn wrote what is perhaps the earliest English work on the subject of conservation in 1662, titled Sylvia. This work proved to be hugely influential in the years to come.

The next century saw conservation efforts develop in mainland Europe, particularly in France and Germany. Conservationists in these countries began taking a scientific approach to managing wild resources and ensuring that forests were not harvested faster than they could replenish themselves.

In the nineteenth century, British conservationists in India developed methods to ensure that the forests there could be conserved for their value as teak and sandalwood repositories. They developed methods to mitigate the risks of wildfires and droughts.

The American Romantic movement helped spur conservation efforts in the United States in the nineteenth century. Writers, such as James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson promoted ideas that people should cultivate an intimate connection with nature. The country still seemed vast and wild, but many looked at the wholesale environmental destruction in much of Europe as a warning that efforts to preserve the wild should occur in America before it was too late. This is around the time that preservationism developed as a movement distinct from conservationism.

Conservationists and preservationists played a significant role in the Progressive Era. The conservationists, headed by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, argued that the federal government take an active role in protecting the wilderness. This led to the creation of a number of national parks and monuments. Roosevelt created the US Forest Service and signed the Antiquities Act to forward this agenda. However, conservationists still believed that the wilderness could be responsibly harnessed as a resource. At the same time, preservationist organizations, such as the Sierra Club, advocated that the government should go even further to protect America's animals and wild places from any intrusion by those seeking to use its resources.

The latter part of the twentieth century saw a revival of these movements. Environmental degradation caused many to grow concerned that economic progress was pushing aside environmental preservation. Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring awakened a new generation of conservationists and preservationists. The Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 as a government arm specifically geared towards conservation.

Since then, many movements have spread worldwide. While they still face many obstacles, conservationists and preservationists are working hard to promote protections for endangered species, combat climate change, and ensure that the remaining wilderness is safe from unbridled development.

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