The Importance and History of Wildlife Management

The diversity and importance of animal species across the world cannot be overstated. Playing a vital role in nature’s food chain, animals are an intrinsic link to the health and well being of global ecosystems. Furthermore, human society is highly dependent on the use of animal life. Our infrastructure is based on numerous natural resources, and animals make up the backbone of it, often literally.

Therefore, the preservation and conservation of animal diversity is exceptionally important. Even the slightest loss in balance can cause cascading effects across global biomes. For example, a loss of predators in one area causes surplus herbivore populations, which in turn, overeat flora and reduce the available food for other animals and insects. The damaging environmental impact can see the rapid decline of specific animal species. 

For our infrastructure and society, we rely on animals for food, medicine, clothing, companionship, and even personal care products. Even if one disregards the well-being and happiness of animal life, from a practical standpoint, the need to conserve and protect wildlife is important on a structural level.

This article reviews the importance of wildlife conservation, and explores the history of wildlife conservation through the years. Start reading, or jump to our Key Takeaways below.

Table of Contents

    Importance of Conservation and Threats to Wildlife

    For the stated reasons, conserving the natural health of wildlife and animals on a global scale is extremely important to maintain the balance of environments. Take another example, where bats are necessary pollinators in regions of the world. Pollination is required for plans to continue growing and in many cases, produce food. Conservation is also necessary to guard against mass exploitation and biome loss.

    But like any natural resource, there are various threats facing the stability of wildlife. Deforestation, pollution, and biome loss are a handful of human-caused dangers resulting in species loss of wildlife. Ironically, dedicated land for meat production is also harmful to wildlife, since it causes widespread environmental loss. 

    history of wildlife management - turtle

    Wildlife threats are not only land based, either. The ocean body sees constant attritional loss and damage caused by human pollution and overfishing. Combined with other environmentally damaging effects like climate change, this can create a mass-extinction domino effect with deadly consequences.

    History of Wildlife Conservation Efforts

    The goal of wildlife conservation is to protect the stability and survival of animal species. In other cases, it’s to establish a balance between use vs. loss, typically with meat production. Unrestricted killing, hunting, and exploitation of animals has led to either extinction or near-total loss of life. The rabid buffalo hunting of the American expansion saw the death of their species, for instance.

    During this expansion, some recognized the immense harm and long term consequences of ecosystem loss and animal extinction in the United States. Therefore, the first conservation efforts in the US started with the establishment and recognition of wildlife parks.

    Wildlife management and conservation in the US started with the creation of the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries in 1871. In the following year, 1872, the Yellowstone National Park was established which acts as a massive refuge for various types of wildlife and resources. 

    Aldo Leopold and Early Conservationist Philosophies

    In the US, Aldo Leopold is arguably the central figure defining the relationship between wildlife management and use. Leopold was a conservationist advocate from Wisconsin, and his work helped shape the philosophical and practical relationship between humans and wildlife use. Aldo was part of the Arizona U.S. Forest Service, where he developed his views on the environment.

    In 1933, he published “Game Management,” an authoritative piece creating the foundations for environmental protection, use, and restoration. 

    In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Committee of Wildlife Restoration. Aldo and Jay Darling created a recommendation for protected environments to help shield bird populations and wildlife from habitation loss. 

    Read more about Aldo Loepold’s philosophies: What Is Ecocentrism?

    US Law and Important Management Resolutions

    Conservation laws and legislative movements in the United States initially started in the late 1800s. Since then, multiple acts and laws have passed to help establish refuges, monuments, and parks to protect animal wildlife.

    1956 – The Fish and Wildlife Act is passed by Congress. It allowed the Secretary of Interior to  make decisions for the preservation and protection of wildlife resources and fisheries across the United States.

    1964 – The Land and Water Act is signed by President Lyndon Johnson. This created the  National Wilderness Preservation System, which, since then, has created over 100 million acres of federally protected land. 

    1973 – President Nixon and Congress create and sign the Endangered Species Act, aimed to protect and repopulate animal species in danger of extinction. 

    The mentioned actions are only a handful of legislative movements designed to conserve, protect, and restore animal life. However, as with any conservation effort, species and wildlife diversity continuously face dangers and habitat loss. 

    Global Conservation and Wildlife Management Movements

    Wildlife and animal conservation is not only based in the US. As a global issue, the continued loss of environments and threats to animal survivability means rescues, parks, and protection organizations are found throughout the world.

    For example, WWF, the World Wildlife Foundation, is a popular leader for conservation education, protection, and action. International efforts like these help highlight not only the dangers facing wildlife, the action organizations can take to create effective movements for animal conservation. 

    In 2021 alone, 23 animal species went extinct, representing the dire need to escalate global animal conservation movements. 

    Protecting Wildlife: What Can You Do?

    What can you do to help protect and conserve wildlife? There are plenty of ways, and not all require serious legislative movements on your sole behalf. For widespread change, government intervention and the creation of regulatory programs and preserves are necessary. But not everyone has to take bold action. Protecting and conserving wildlife is something we can all do in our own way.

    Key points of this are:

    fox - history of wildlife management
    • Understand the threats to wildlife and natural resources (consumption, exploitation, habitation loss)
    • Learn how the loss of animal diversity can cause damaging, widespread effects to other species
    • Identify what processes in our consumption chain cause direct or indirect harm to wildlife (such as meat consumption leading to deforestation, harming biomes and wildlife)

    Key Takeaways

    Here’s what you need to know about the history of wildlife management:

    • Though important, emphasis on wildlife management and conservation didn’t see major legislative movement in the United States until the late 1800s. 
    • Despite the establishment of national parks and lands for protection, hazards and threats to wildlife are constant. From excessive consumption of natural resources and unchecked destruction of biomes, animals consistently face extinction level threats.
    • Like other paths to natural resource conservation, serious efforts must be made to seek alternative resources, better regulate the balance of use and repopulation, and maintain hard regulatory stances on human land development.

    The Importance and History of Forest Conservation

    The pivotal role forests play in the global ecosystem cannot be overstated. Forests provide everything from powerful natural resources to massive environmental biosystems hosting thousands of vibrant species. Additionally, forests are producers of oxygen and are massive CO2 sinks, acting as foundational blocks to life itself. Without them, life as it is would not exist, which is why the preservation and conservation of forests is so critical.

    Forest conservation is an always-necessary approach to maintaining a usage balance. While lumber plays a role in manufacturing, production, and supply across the world, excess use (like any natural resource) leads to deforestation and harrowing environmental damage.

    This article will take us through the history of forest conservation efforts in the U.S.

    Table of Contents

      The Goal of Forest Conservation

      The leading goal behind forest conservation is to both protect natural resources and maintain it for feasible production. In other words, forest conservationists wish to protect forests while still using the forest’s resources, like lumber, sustainably. Other goals are to protect forests from destruction, disaster, and impact typically caused by human overconsumption. 

      Read more: The Difference Between Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration

      Threats Facing Forests

      The threats posed to forest environments around the global chain, many of which are driven by human demand and consumption, are numerous. For instance, one common example of widespread deforestation is the preparation of farmland for cattle. That land is “prepared” to be an agricultural area for raising cattle (and thus deforested) because of the overwhelming demand for beef across the global supply chain.

      Deforestation is also caused by:

      importance and history of forest conservation
      • Invasive species
      • Overpopulation of insects or animals
      • Disease
      • Pollution
      • Natural disasters

      When deforestation occurs, forest bodies become fragmented. This fragmentation exacerbates the problem, leaving trees and animals more susceptible to problems like loss of habitats and biodiversity and reduced forest health. Over time, entire forest biomes can be lost, threatening wildlife stability and the environment. 

      A Brief History of Forestry Conservation

      While the aim to preserve and maintain forest bodies is a global effort and every nation utilizes different methods to protect forests, we’ll focus on the United States. 

      Conservation efforts and legislation in the U.S. began in the late 1800s. The US Department of Agriculture appointed a Special Agent in 1876, with the goal to maintain and preserve the quality of forests. From there, the foundations of forest conservation efforts began. 1881 saw the Division of Forestry’s creation, and in 1891 the Forest Reserve Act was passed. That allowed the president to declare and dedicate public lands and bodies of forests as “reserves.”

      In 1905, Gifford Pinchot was the first chief of the US Forest Service and a powerful voice for conservation efforts as a whole. 

      On Gifford Pinchot

      It’s impossible to talk about forest conservation efforts in the United States without discussing Gifford Pinchot. While his support of eugenics is a dark mark on the history of environmentalism in this country, Pinchot is still an important foundation to forest reserves and how we utilize lumber.

      Gifford pinchot - history of forest conservation
      Gifford Pinchot

      Gifford viewed forest preserves as an important social necessity, and realized the need for balancing use vs consumption. He worked closely with President Roosevelt, heading the National Forest Commission and overseeing forest reservations for a decade. Pinchot’s overall philosophy regarding conservation was one of practicality. He did not believe in total restriction of land use, but recognized the severe harm and long-term consequences of exploitation and excessive use.

      This balanced approach helped rapidly expand the amount of reserve forests in the United States, and in 1910, the total amount of reserve forests counted for 193 million acres.

      Gifford sums up his philosophy on conservation with this quote:

      Conservation means the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time.

      Gifford Pinchot, first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service

      Regulatory Law throughout the 1900s

      Since the initial conservation acts and laws of the early 1900s, other acts have passed to further preserve and protect US national forests. Some, for instance, were in response to check increased demand as a result of global events (such as WWI and WW2). Others were to avoid excessive use of forested land.

      Some examples include:

      • The NEPA Act (National Environmental Policy Act) of 1969 and 1976
      • The Endangered Species Act of 1973
      • The Wilderness Act of 1964

      There are numerous others, but Acts like those listed were (and still are) critical to the protection of reserved forest biomes. 

      Modern Conservation and Threats to Forests

      Though the United States has a robust set of laws and regulatory bodies to help protect forests, this does not mean modern forests around the world are not in danger. Most notable is the Amazon rainforest, arguably the most important and diverse forest biome in the world.

      Much like the threats facing forests a century ago, problems impacting biomes like the Amazon are driven by factors like exploitation and consumption. The Amazon continues to face the severe threat of deforestation, caused by:

      • Excessive farming, primarily for global meat production (other food production are causes too; over 20 million hectares of Amazon rainforest land is used for soybeans)
      • General expansion of populations, cutting down sections of the Amazon for construction
      • Mass burning, whereby entire sections of forest are burned to create “nutrient appropriate” soil for other means of production

      The long term use of mono-crops and other exploitative measures create long term damage which can take years to recover from. Considering the vital importance of the Amazon rainforest, loss of such a diverse biome will have catastrophic effects throughout the world. For instance, the Amazon is nicknamed the “lungs of the earth,” given how large of a carbon sink it is, and losing it would exacerbate the effects of climate change even further. This is nothing to say of the damage to unique species and their eventual endangerment. 

      With so many threats facing forests in the US and abroad, it’s daunting for conservation efforts to maintain reserves and protected environments. What can we do to help protect these important biomes?

      What Can We Do to Protect Forests?

      Forest - history of forest conservation

      Protecting and conserving forest biomes – within and outside of the US – is a monumental task indeed. Some take initiatives to plant trees in forest depleted areas to help restore those zones over time. For example, Ecosia, an alternative search engine, plants tree seeds based on the amount of searches by an individual person. However, long term and significant changes are largely on how we address widespread consumerism and economic issues. Individual efforts and group activism help start grassroots movements for conserving forests, but without severe limits on deforestation around the world, we’ll lose the biomes entirely.

      Key Takeaways

      We’ve seen how important forest conservation is, not just for environmental importance, but for production too. Here are the key takeaways:

      • Excess and mass exploitation of resources, in the long term, is damaging to both species diversity and the nature of human production/survival. 
      • Protecting future environments and forests requires continued regulatory stances on how we consume lumber.
      • Like other resource use, finding alternatives to both production and consumption of forests is key for long term survival and environmental stability.

      History of Air Pollution and Protection

      Air pollution has existed as a health and environmental concern for centuries. Ignited by industrial revolutions across the globe and the use of unclean energy sources (coal, gas, diesel), air contamination has grown as a longstanding problem with numerous negative consequences. 

      Various complications arise from air pollution. Air pollution creates a myriad of health and environmental problems, contributes to climate warming, and significantly decreases the quality of life for those affected. But where did problematic air pollution really begin? And, more importantly, what methods do we use today to help protect the environment and public health against air contamination? The history and protection of our climate is extensive. In this article, we’ll focus on several key events which shaped modern clean air conservation. 

      Read on to learn about the history of air pollution and protection, or scroll down to see the highlights in our timeline.

      Table of Contents

        Brief History of Significant Air Pollution Events

        The primary causes of human-made air pollution are industrial in nature. The burning of materials create excessive clouds and smog which, over time, saturate the air with dangerous compounds like sulfur dioxide. Coal burning, for example, is one of the oldest examples of severe air pollution. In fact, severe air contamination caused by coal burning is traceable as far back as 1306, when regulations were created that sought to control intense coal burning in parts of London. 

        Some of the most significant examples of air pollution, however, begin in the 1900s with the acceleration of the Industrial Revolution. The combination of weather factors and heavy reliance on burning polluting material (again, coal) created hazardous conditions detrimental to the health of living beings.

        1948: Donora, PA Smog Incident

        In October 1948, Donora fell victim to a smog incident which killed 20 and hospitalized 600 others. The small Pennsylvania town of 14,000 people was a haven for steel mills which produced an abundance of heavy contaminants like zinc, carbon monoxide, and sulphuric acid. At the time, no regulatory standards were in place for the small town.

        During the smog incident, weather conditions trapped the air pollutants and created a thick atmosphere of poisonous fog. Elderly people and those with existing respiratory conditions died because of the contamination, and the clouds only dispersed after rainfall.

        1952: The Great Smog

        Infamous examples of disastrous air pollution are found throughout history, though many recognize events like the Great Smog as one of the worst. This event highlights the dangers created by mass air pollution events and the severe consequences it had on the general public’s health.

        The Great Smog started during the December winter season. A combination of industrial businesses, smoke stacks, and furnaces were used to combat the cold snap, overloading the air with dangerous particles. The soot and materials combined to form poisonous clouds of thick smoke, engulfing parts of London in a dangerous fog. Other contaminants, like diesel smoke, also added a layer of pollution.

        Weather inversion, where warm air trapped the cold, dangerous fog, created a “pea soup” of breathable poison. There was no wind to sweep away the smog and thus nowhere for it to disperse. City dwellers were exposed to an acidic vapor lasting for five days.

        More than a visual nuisance, the Great Smog quickly grew lethal. Children, eldelry, and those with respiratory conditions were the most vulnerable. Bronchitis, pneumonia, and critical lung conditions resulted in 4,000 fog related deaths, even after the pollution dissipated. 

        The resulting deaths and concerns spurred the Clean Air Act of 1956, transitioning homes away from coal heating. But the damage was done, and an event like the Great Smog punctuated how deadly air pollution was (and still is).

        air pollution in Windes - history of air pollution
        Air pollution in Windes, England in the late 1800s, as a result of industrial growth.
        Source: Hardie, D. W. F., A History of the Chemical Industry in Widnes, Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, 1950. Available online.

        1953: New York Air Pollution

        Almost a year later, in November 1953, a similar event in the United States occurred. While not as severe as the Great Smog, the ingredients for disaster were still there. Excessive air contamination from burning industrial materials created toxic conditions, resulting in the daily deaths of an average of 30 people in New York. Factory furnaces and filth created an atmosphere of deadly sulfur dioxide, lead, and carbon monoxide. 

        Once again, excessive pollution created deadly conditions in addition to long term respiratory problems and impact on wildlife. 

        Over the next several decades, the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory bodies have stepped in to monitor industrial and regulate air pollution. 

        NYC Air pollution - history of air pollution and protection
        New York City air pollution in 1973 vs. 2013, after the passage of the Clean Air Act.
        Source: EPA Then and Now Challenge

        Protective Measures for Air Pollution

        Today, while air contamination has been reduced, it still poses a serious health risk. The regulatory measures taken to control and reduce pollution are defined by a federal agency. For example, in the United States, the EPA handles environmental conservation policies, air pollution included. 

        The EPA was originally founded in December 1970 by President Nixon, and has since worked to reduce any and all forms of environmental pollutants. During the 70s and beyond, an increase in regulatory measures were taken in response to deteriorating conditions related to the environment and air quality.

        For air pollution, the EPA establishes a criteria to both identify serious air contamination and ways to reduce it. The EPA has created a combination of policies, set in place by the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act dictates the EPA set standards for air pollution, also known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 

        The standards have a basis of six pollution criteria: particulate matter, lead, ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. 

        In the United States specifically, there have been other regulatory bodies introduced over the course of air pollution events. 

        • Cincinnati introduces clean air laws in 1881
        • LA creates Air Pollution Control District in 1947
        • 1968 sees the creation of the Clean Air Act
        • In 1978, the EPA sets standards for lead and lead pollution
        • While the Trump administration withdraws the US from the Paris Agreement, the US rejoins in 2021

        See our timeline below for more important years in the history of air pollution and air pollution protection.

        Key Takeaways

        Air pollution events have been occurring for centuries. Here are the main takeaways about air pollution and protection of clean air:

        • Contaminants from industrial pollutants caused by manufacturing are critical suppliers of air pollution.
        • Weather can contribute to the lethality of air pollution, as temperature changes trap the dangerous fog in the affected area.
        • Controlling and protecting against air pollution requires regulatory standards on the allowable “safe” amount of contaminants caused by manufacturing, with an emphasis on moving towards cleaner standards and energy sources.

        Unfortunately, while standards have improved, air pollution is still a serious global concern.


        chicago air pollution - history of air pollution and protection

        Cincinnati & Chicago Introduce Clean Air Laws

        As a result of pollution caused by the industrial revolution, the cities of Cincinnati and Chicago passed clean air laws.


        map donora - history of air pollution and protection

        Donora, PA Smog Incident

        In October 1948, Donora fell victim to a smog incident in which weather conditions trapped the air pollutants and created a thick atmosphere of poisonous fog., killing 20 people.


        london smog - history of air pollution and protection

        The Great Smog of London

        In London, in December 1952, increased pollution from industrial businesses contributed to a large smoke, that killed 4000 people.


        lethal smog in NYC - history of pollution

        New York’s Deadly Air Pollution

         Excessive air contamination from burning industrial materials created toxic conditions, resulting in the daily deaths of an average of 30 people in New York.


        air pollution control act - history of air pollution protection

        Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 Passed

        In response to health concerns caused by smog, this law provided funding for research into pollution, although it didn’t actually prevent pollution.


        signing clean air act - air pollution history

        Clean Air Act of 1963 passed

        This U.S. Federal law granted money to state and local governments to create programs to prevent air pollution. It also spurred the creation of car emissions standards.


        earth day protesters 1970 - air pollution protection

        Clean Air Act of 1970 Passed

        This amendment to earlier laws resulted in an entirely new Clean Air Act. The Act set standards for hazardous emissions and vehicle emissions.


        Chicago Image – Encyclopedia of Chicago

        Donora Image – Wikipedia

        London Image –

        New York ImageNew York Times

        Air Pollution Newspaper Image – Library of Congress

        Johnson Signing Clean Air Act Image –

        Clean Air Act 1970 Protesters Image – Doug Draper,

        The Difference Between Conservation, Preservation and Restoration

        Conservation, preservation and restoration are all terms related to the protection of nature. However, there are some key differences. 

        What is conservation? Conservation is the protection of nature through proper use. This concept includes conservation of wildlife and of natural environments. Conservationists believe that natural resources can be used, but they must be used in a way that is sustainable and responsible so that we can continue to use those resources.

        Unlike conservation, what does preservation emphasize? Preservation is the protection of nature from any use or human interference. Preservationists push to protect areas of land from any alteration.

        How is restoration related? Restoration is the process of returning degraded environments to their natural condition. Like conservation and preservation, restoration emphasizes protection of nature, but it takes it one step further to bring nature back to what it looked like before human actions had an impact.

        Learn more about restoration, preservation and conservation of wildlife and natural environments in this infographic.

        unlike conservation what does preservation emphasize

        How to Make Sure Your Supply Chain is Up-To-Date with Ethical Standards

        Ethical audits are a way for companies to evaluate how ethical the suppliers within their supply chain are. Many businesses are blind – or intentionally turn a blind eye – to the ethical standards of their suppliers. However, to operate as a modern, ethical company that lives up to the standards of your consumers, you’ll need to fully evaluate all of your suppliers.  

        Ethical audits are designed to keep your suppliers, production processes, and business operations in-check. This involves an initial audit, adjustments where needed, and staying on top of the legislative changes in your industry.

        How can you stay ahead of the curve?

        What Is an Ethical Audit?

        Ethical audits are an extensive review and evaluation of your supplier (usually conducted by a third party but can be done in-house). The main points that are usually evaluate include:

        • Treatment of employees
        • Compliance with labor laws
        • Working conditions
        • Etc.

        As you know from reading other posts on this site that explore the meaning behind what is ethical, “ethics” is a very complex term. Many different people, businesses, and cultures define what is “ethical” differently.

        The Ethical Dilemma

        On one hand, you have labor ethics that are clearly defined by a governing body (can be local, international, or other). These would include ethical standards for things like:

        • How long a work day is
        • How much pay is fair
        • What type of working conditions are acceptable

        These legal ethics are fairly straightforward and are most often where a company starts when seeking to make sure their suppliers are following the applicable ethical standards (depending on where they are operating).

        On the other hand, there are cultural ethics which are not always reflected in governing laws. For example, while the legal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour, your consumers may believe a fair minimum wage is closer to $15.00 per hour.

        How do you decide what is ethical?

        This is up to you and your business. Most businesses take the legal ethics as their baseline, then evaluate and build on top of that. There are international standards set by organizations like amfori BSCI which sets recommendations for how businesses should manage their supply chains to conform with the SDGs – UN Sustainable Development Goals.

        You can use a combination of local, international, and your own ethics standards to create a checklist by which you’ll hold your suppliers accountable.

        What Is an Ethical Audit Checklist?

        Your ethical audit checklist, as the title suggests, can be used by your supplier for internal review, your own auditors external to the supplier, or a third party auditor for a more objective evaluation.

        You may start with a simple and broad checklist, but to properly evaluate each of your suppliers, each will need a checklist that is specified to be appropriate each supplier.

        If you hire a company for a third party ethical audit, they should have knowledge about your industry and can help you put together the most affective checklist. They should also be able to provide you with a final report and a corrective action plan if warranted.

        Where To Start?

        You may feel overwhelmed if you’re starting to tackle this challenge and you have various suppliers in several different countries. We recommend starting small, learning as you go, getting help where needed, and not being too critical on yourself during the process. Here are some tips to help you get started and gain some momentum, so you don’t throw your hands up at a challenge that feels to big to tackle:

        • Start with Proximate Suppliers – start with the suppliers that are geographically closest to your business and most immediate to your final products. You can then branch out to deeper levels of your supply chain.  
        • Start with Small Suppliers – the smaller the supplier the smaller the footprint you’ll need to cover when it comes to ethical practices, which makes building your checklist easier. This will also give you a starting foundation you can build upon for larger, more complex suppliers.
        • Clarify Your Objectives – make sure you’re clear on why you are embarking on this transition to an ethical supply chain. This should be the basis for your actions and should help keep your eye on the prize. You may also find it helpful to set some simple benchmarks like number of suppliers audited by a certain date and number of suppliers meeting ethical standards by a date further out.

        What Is Environmental Responsibility?

        It might seem like a daunting task to take responsibility for the environment – one that often doesn’t feel like a priority when it comes to the many other things we are focused on in our day to day lives. But, as many environmental ethical philosophies teach us, humans must be held responsible to protecting the environment, especially if we wish to continue benefitting from its resources.

        Here, you will learn how to become environmentally responsible, who should be held accountable, and why keeping the Earth in good condition is so vital.

        What is environmental responsibility - man holding globe

        What Is Environmental Responsibility? 

        Environmental responsibility is the duty that individuals (and businesses or organizations) have to protect the environment. This often means taking action either to reduce our impacts on the environment (known as conservation or preservation) or even reverse previous harm (known as restoration). This ideology of environmental responsibility includes preventing pollution, using resources sustainably, protecting the environment, restoring natural habitats, and ensuring a planet for future generations. 

        In other words, as human beings, it is our responsibility to look after nature and all creatures that live in our environment. After all, if we do not preserve and conserve all ecosystems, we will not be able to survive. 

        Environmental responsibility is most frequently used to describe the imperative on businesses to reduce environmental damages (and is sometimes referred to as corporate environmental responsibility). While this may be true, environmental responsibility does extend to individuals, as we’ll discuss below. Taking on environmental responsibility may mean making changes in our personal lives to safeguard the environment. However, each of us may interpret our responsibility to the environment differently, depending on how we interpret our role in the ecosystem, and what motivates us.

        Read more about different philosophies for determining our responsibility to nature: What Are Environmental Ethics?

        The Four Levels Of Environmental Responsibility

        There are four different levels of environmental responsibility. Each level plays a role in conserving the environment and ensuring human health and safety. They are: 

        Individual responsibility

        As an individual, you make daily choices that can affect the environment positively or negatively. It is essential that you try your best to preserve our natural resources as much as possible. No action is too big or too small. Every little thing we do, like recycling paper, can help the greater picture in the end. 

        You can recycle, reduce water use, lower your carbon footprint, among plenty of other ways to preserve the natural world and its resources.

        Community responsibility

        Communities as a whole can implement environmental actions that often have a bigger impact than individual action.

        Community leaders can help reduce waste by implementing recycling programs for the area, promote water conservation and create green community projects.

        Industry responsibility

        It is the responsibility of a company to ensure that its business operates with environmental protection in mind. Industry environmental responsibility is a mentality whereby a business manages their resources responsibility, ensuring that they meet environmental standards as well as internal goals to function as ‘greenly’ as possible. 

        Government responsibility 

        The government can create laws and legislation that ensure the environment is preserved for generations to come. Governmental interventions like laws are often necessary to get businesses and individuals to actually take major action to support the environment. In this way, government environmental responsibility helps define other branches of environmental responsibility (for example, by creating environmental laws that businesses must follow).

        Working together, individuals, communities, businesses and government can have major impacts on environmental protection — so long as each is focused on fulfilling their own environmental responsibilities.

        Why Is Environmental Responsibility Important?

        The more practical argument for why protecting our environment is essential is that natural resources are crucial for our survival. We depend on trees for oxygen, we depend on soil for food, and on rivers and other hydrological sources for water. From this perspective, environmental responsibility is important because it allows for human life to thrive.

        A more philosophical argument is that we have a moral obligation to ensure we protect the planet we live on. Environmental responsibility protects other forms of life on Earth, and even protects non-living ecosystems. If we do not adhere to environmental responsibilities, our species and hundreds of others will not be able to survive.

        Who Is Responsible For The Environment? 

        There are many different arguments for who is responsible for the environment. Some believe we as a human race are responsible, while others may believe we have no responsibility at all. Still others may believe that select groups are responsible for protecting the environment such as those who pollute the most, government agencies, or environmental activists.

        When it really comes down to it, it may not matter who should be responsible, but rather, that we take on the responsibility at all; We will not survive without extending protection and restoration to nature. As Evo Morales, former President of Bolivia argued, “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”

        What Is Our Moral Responsibility To Protect The Environment?

        According to some environmental philosophers, is our moral responsibility to protect the environment and ensure the continuation of life on earth. For example, some may argue that because humans have the knowledge and moral values to know right from wrong, we must act as stewards of the Earth.

        Even if you don’t believe that we have a moral imperative to protect nature, holding ourselves responsible for how we treat the environment is crucial to ensuring our societies continue to exist in the future.

        Final Thoughts 

        No matter who you believe truly holds the responsibility for protecting the environment, there’s no doubt that environmental responsibility is crucial to ensuring a livable world for future generations. We must all do our part.

        “To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” ― Theodore Roosevelt.

        What Is Corporate Environmental Responsibility?

        Understanding the concept of corporate environmental ethics and how it helps reduce companies’ environmental impacts

        The field of corporate environmental ethics aims to make humans more aware of the impacts our companies and actions have on our carbon footprints and the environment as a whole. 

        Nowadays, customers look at a company as a whole, rather than just the products they provide. Consumers may value a company’s adherence to environmental ethics such as a lack of animal testing, following organic standards, or using packaging that can be recycled to help maintain a healthy planet for generations to come.

        In this article, we will look at the importance of Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER), sometimes known as corporate environmental ethics, and how we can make a change for the better. 

        building and leaves - corporate environmental ethics

        What Is Corporate Environmental Responsibility?

        Corporate environmental responsibility is the duty of a company to operate in a way that protects the environment. This may include adhering to both government regulations and internal environmental standards. Many companies implement official Corporate Environmental Responsibility action plans that set green objectives for each aspect of their business practices.

        Corporate environmental responsibility focuses on using resources wisely. Often, CER requires business leaders to invest more time or money into their business in order to lower environmental impacts upfront, although these steps often lead to cost savings in the future. Taking small actions like turning lights off in offices that are not in use or asking employees to bring their own coffee mugs to the office are small steps that reduce your environmental impact, and are part of CER. However, much of CER focuses on larger steps companies can take to reduce carbon emissions and pollution across the supply chain.

        Many investors evaluate CER, a company’s adherence to corporate environmental ethics, before they invest any money into the business.  Embracing corporate environmental ethics will not only help you protect the environment but will also show investors that you take responsibility for your actions and comply with regulations.

        Why Is Corporate Environmental Responsibility So Important?

        The goal of corporate environmental responsibility is to make companies more aware of their environmental impact so they can work to reduce it. Reducing pollution and lowering corporate carbon footprints are some of the main goals that align with corporate environmental ethics.

        By ensuring the environmental responsibility of your business, you teach future generations that successful businesses can be built without causing environmental damage. Reducing business’ environmental impacts is also a crucial part of fighting climate change and ensuring a livable environment in the future.

        Benefits of Corporate Environmental Responsibility 

        Not only does corporate environmental responsibility help reduce damage to the environment, but

        Firstly, CER can prove to be more profitable for companies. As consumers become more aware of sustainability and supporting environmentally friendly companies, they are more likely to choose companies that adhere to strong corporate environmental ethics.

        You will also save money by changing some old habits that cause your carbon footprint to go up such as leaving lights on for no reason or using large amounts of water. Reducing energy usage not only lessens your impact on the environment, but it also lowers your own costs.

        Finally, climate change’s impacts will make it much more difficult for businesses to function. We all have a vested interest in reducing our contribution to climate change so that our businesses (and all other aspects of our lives) can continue to thrive.

        Who Should Be Responsible For Protecting The Environment?

        While some government agencies are tasked with enforcing environmental responsibility ultimately we all live on the same planet and use natural resources that help our businesses grow, put food on our tables, and allow us to buy everything that we want and need. We will all be impacted by the negative affects of climate change, and it is particularly important for large contributors to global warming take stock of the current environmental situation.

        Some environmental ethical philosophies argue that it is our moral responsibility as humans to ensure the continuation of life on earth. At the end of the day, all of us, but perhaps especially business-owners, must do our part to preserve the environment for generations to come.

        Principles of Corporate Environmental Responsibility

        Sustainable development 

        Sustainable development encompasses the idea that a business can grow, while doing so in a way that can continue without destroying the environment. This principle encompasses most environmental actions a business can take, from moving to recyclable materials to lowering energy usage to limit your impacts on the climate.

        Sustainable development will help ensure that your products and business will be able to develop in the foreseeable future, rather than depleting necessary finite resources in the present.

        Proper waste disposal

        This might seem simple, but it is one of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects of a green business. By ensuring that all your waste is stored or thrown away correctly, you avoid pollution and increased carbon emissions.

        Even small actions can help. For example, place recycle bins outside your office so that your employees can dispose of their waste correctly. You also need to make sure that medical waste, polluted waste, and all other waste is stored or handled correctly to avoid harm to human health and the environment alike.

        Low resource use

        An environmentally responsible company uses resources such as water, energy, and raw materials in a conscientious manner. This is a widely applicable principle that applies to nearly every stage in a business’ supply chain. For example, this may mean using recycled materials to create your products, or designing products that can be recycled at the end of their lifecycle. This principle also includes investing in low-energy production processes, relying on renewable energies, or even simply reducing the amount of paper that gets printed around the office. Much of this is directly related to lowering your carbon footprint, or the amount of carbon you emit throughout your value chain.

        How Can Your Business Become Environmentally Responsible? 

        There are a few very small things that you can do to help your company become environmentally responsible. While companies should carefully review all aspects of their business to reduce emissions, here are a few places to start that are quite easy to implement:

        recycled tag - what is corporate environmental ethics
        • Turn off lights that are not needed
        • Collect rainwater so that you can water your plants at the office 
        • Recycle your plastics, glass, and paper
        • Use reusable straws, coffee cups, and shopping bags so that there is less plastic going into the oceans and landfill
        • Avoid printing documents to save paper
        • Create packaging that is recyclable or made from recyclable materials
        • Evaluate how your products are transported — is there a remore efficient solution?
        • Encourage employees to carpool or take public transit to the office (or better yet, allow them to work from home and get rid of commuting emissions altogether!).


        Research shows that 54% of American businesses have formal green programs in place.  As founder of Green Buoy Consulting Eliza Erskine said, “Sustainability has become a priority for businesses.” While 54% of businesses is still not enough to truly reduce the environmental impacts of industry, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

        Many businesses have begun to realize that if they don’t go green, they will not survive the new paradigm, as it’s clear that environmental conservation and corporate environmental ethics are of increasing importance to consumers. You will not only help the environment by becoming environmentally responsible, but you will also boost consumer confidence in your company.  

        Read more: How to Make Sure Your Supply Chain Is Up to Date with Ethical Standards

        What Is Individual Environmental Responsibility?

        Understanding an individual’s environmental responsibility and how we can become more environmentally responsible for generations to come 

        Individual environmental responsibility describes the personal responsibility each of us has to protect the natural world.

        We will examine individual environmental responsibility today, and why changing our actions is crucial to protecting the environment.  

        leaf in hand - individual environmental responsibility

        What Is Individual Environmental Responsibility?

        Individual environmental responsibility is the responsibility that each of holds to protect the environment. This includes actions such as limiting our damage to the environment, making rational use of natural resources, and taking steps to prevent pollution.

        Individual environmental responsibility is all about the choices we make, and how those impact the environment. Individual environmental responsibility argues that we as individuals need to make positive personal choices, such as recycling or taking the bus, that contribute to the wellbeing of the environment. This is in contrast to corporate environmental responsibility, which pushes a business as a whole to take environmental action, or community environmental responsibility, which focuses on communal actions focused on the environment.

        Some have argued that individual responsibility is not sufficient to actually making change, as our individual actions alone have a much lower impact than corporations’ actions. However, others respond that individual action is simply a part of a whole, and that individual actions to protect the environment can add up to become meaningful.

        How Are We As Individuals Responsible For The Environment?

        On our own, we make choices and decisions about our own activities, and inevitably, they do revolve around resource consumption. In everyday life, we have so many choices that we don’t often think about. How long does it take to take a shower? Do you turn off the tap whilst lathering your hands with soap? Do you recycle or simply throw everything away? All of these small choices add up to the ultimate decision of how we are going to treat our natural resources and environment.

        While there is rarely someone forcing us to think about our environmental impacts (except for laws like anti-littering regulations), individual environmental responsibility encourages us to take actions that protect the environment.

        That said, some argue that focusing on individual responsibility takes away focus from what we actually need to solve environmental crises like climate change: organized collective action and high-level structural shifts. In other ways, while replacing plastic straws with metal ones in your home is a good thing, it’s unlikely to make a huge impact, and many argue that this is more of a distraction than a promising solution.

        Professor Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research explained his views on the matter: “Personal sacrifice alone cannot be the solution to tackling the climate crisis. There’s no other area in which the individual is held so responsible for what’s going wrong. And it’s true: people drive too much, eat too much meat, and fly too often. But reaching zero emissions requires very fundamental changes. Individual sacrifice alone will not bring us to zero. It can be achieved only by real structural change; by a new industrial revolution. Looking for solutions to the climate crisis in individual responsibilities and actions risks obstructing this. It suggests that all we have to do is pull ourselves together over the next 30 years and save energy, walk, skip holidays abroad, and simply ‘do without.’ But these demands for individual action paralyze people, thereby preventing the large-scale change we so urgently need.”

        person holding plant - individual environmental responsibility

        Why Is It Important To Be Environmentally Responsible?

        Many individuals are not motivated to act environmentally-responsible, as it often is less convenient, and also because we often don’t see the results of our actions. But even if it doesn’t have immediate impacts, personal choices still do make a difference, even if it’s a small one. Personal actions can also have a larger impact than we may think, as they quickly become collective. For example, you may make the choice to call your governmental representative to pressure them to make an environmentally-responsible regulatory decision, or the personal decision to boycott an environmentally-damaging company. When many people make these personal decisions collectively, we start to see results.

        Environmental ethics pushes us towards action, if only to preserve the natural world’s resources for further use. As part of the biosphere, we should make it our goal to hold ourselves accountable for our actions towards the environment and how we use natural resources. 

        Ultimately, our survival depends on having people who are concerned about the environment. We will be able to grow and thrive on the earth if we conserve natural resources and replenish what we can. By doing so, we will be able to utilize these resources for a long time to come. 

        How Can An Individual Be Environmentally Responsible?

        There are several different ways in which you can become more environmentally responsible in your everyday life. 

        1. Reduce waste
          Reduce, reuse, recycle. When possible follow these three Rs so that you can help reduce the amount of waste that gets placed into oceans and on land sites that cause harm to the environment as well as to animals and ecosystems.
        2. Conserve energy
          Turn off all lights and computers and other appliances that are not in use. If you are not using it, it should not be turned on or plugged in. 
        3. Conserve water
          Make sure that you only run your dishwasher when it is full, do not spend hours in the shower, repair leaky faucets and collect rainwater to water your plants and garden when possible. 
        4. Properly dispose of items
          Make use of household hazardous waste or e-waste services, recycle your items and donate items to charities in your area. 
        5. Get involved
          Do some research and see if you have environmental clubs around your area. Alternatively, you and some friends can start your own. You can meet up once a month or so and go around and clean up your area, local parks or start a compost heap that you can all share. 
        6. Learn and Educate
          Lastly, the best thing that you can do is educate yourself and others on how to become more environmentally responsible. You do not have to do anything drastic but each positive action towards the environment will help the earth in the long run. 

        Final Thoughts 

        Professor Lester Milbrath, environmentalist and Political Science professor, said in his book Envisioning a Sustainable Society, “Learning how to reason together about values is crucial to saving our species. As a society we have to learn better how to learn, I call it social learning; it is the dynamic for change that could lead us to a new kind of society that will not destroy itself from its own excess.”

        It is impossible to change the world as an individual. However, it is possible to have a positive impact on our small piece of land if we become more conscious of our actions and do our best to recycle, reuse, and conserve as much as we possibly can. Eventually, we can all learn how to be more responsible for the environment, which must occur in order for our future to be healthier and more sustainable. 

        What Is The Importance of Environmental Ethics?

        Understanding the importance of environmental ethics and the role it plays in society  

        Environmental ethics is a branch of ethics that focuses on the human relationship to nature. There are multiple philosophies that argue for different understandings of our responsibility to nature. For example, some environmental ethical philosophies argue that humans are superior to nature, while others argue that we are equal to every being in the ecosystem, including non-living things, and owe them moral treatment.

        In this post, we will discuss why environmental ethics is so important, and how environmental ethics plays a role in society today.

        Background information: What Is Environmental Ethics?

        importance of environmental ethics

        What Are The Key Points of Environmental Ethics?

        At its core, environmental ethics focuses on using ethical principles to make moral decisions about the environment. Generally, there are three main branches of environmental ethics:

        1. Anthropocentrism: This ethical philosophy argues that humans are superior to other creatures.
        2. Biocentrism: This ethical philosophy argues that all living beings deserve moral consideration and treatment.
        3. Ecocentrism: This ethical philosophy argues that all parts of the ecosystem, including non-living things like water or rocks, deserve moral consideration and treatment.

        There are three basic principles of ethics that act as the basis of many of the questions environmental ethics focuses on. 

        1. Justice and sustainability: Equal beings deserve fair treatment that can be sustained into the future.
        2. Sufficiency and compassion: All beings deserve access to the resources they need to survive and thrive
        3. Solidarity and participation: We are part of a community (or multiple communities) and we must act in a way that reflects concern for the well being of others.

        Each of these ethical principles informs how we respond to environmental problems, but our understanding of our place in relation to nature (our chosen environmental philosophy) impacts this response as well.

        For example, under the principle of justice and sustainability, all equal beings deserve equal treatment. But are animals equal to humans, and do they deserve the same treatment? Environmental ethics can help us answer this question.

        Similarly, who is deserving of sufficiency and compassion? Humans alone (an anthropocentric viewpoint), all living beings (a biocentric viewpoint), or all parts of the ecosystem, even non-living things (an ecocentric viewpoint)?

        Finally, the solidarity and participation principle asks us to decide who is in our community – just humans, all living things, or the natural world as a whole – and guides us on how we can make decisions that take our community as a whole into account.

        These guiding principles help determine what moral action is, and environmental ethics helps us apply these principles to environmental problems.

        What Is The Importance Of Environmental Ethics?

        Environmental ethics revolves around making human communities as well as ecosystems better. It prioritizes the importance of preserving and protecting resources for all kinds in the present as well as the future. 

        Environmental ethics is a philosophical approach that values the human/nonhuman dynamics in nature. It notices how humans and the environment have an ongoing relationship with one another that needs to be cherished and looked after. 

        Just like the earth gives humans resources to sustain themselves, humans need to help give back resources to nature and other ecosystems to help them sustain themselves as well. Ultimately, we’re part of a complicated web of beings and ecosystems that cannot thrive without each other.

        What Is The Role Of Environmental Ethics In Society?

        Environmental ethics help us to establish a moral relationship between humans and nature. These guiding principles help us make decisions, both when it comes to how to use environmental resources morally, and when considering our impacts on the environment.

        Environmental ethics also helps us understand our place in the world. No matter how big or small an ecosystem might be, each ecosystem and organism impacts the world around it. Environmental ethics helps us understand that we all have a part to play on this earth and that without each piece, a crucial link in the chain would be missing. By understanding our relationship to other species and ecosystems, we are better prepared to make decisions based on ethics.


        Environmental ethics helps human beings extend moral consideration to nonhumans, helping us understand our place in relation to nature. This is important because, with a strong set of environmental ethics, we can more easily make decisions about environmental issues.

        To learn about each of the main environmental ethical philosophies, read our article What Is Environmental Ethics?

        What Is The EPA Responsible For?

        EPA logo - what is the epa responsible for

        Did you know that the United States has one of the safest and most reliable drinking water systems in the world? We have safe drinking water because the EPA has spent hundreds of hours developing plans, implementing them, and ensuring their effectiveness. And it’s not just water that the EPA protects; the EPA works to conserve a huge variety of natural resources related to environmental and human health, such as clean air. Without the EPA’s work to protect our natural resources, who knows where our environment and living conditions might be today.  

        Here, we will explore what the EPA is, and how they have worked hard to improve our environment, health, and lives.

        What Is The EPA?

        The EPA is the United States Environmental Protection Agency. President Richard Nixon proposed the establishment of EPA back in July of 1970. The agency began operation in December 1070 after Nixon signed an executive order. It was originally created due to increasing concerns about growing degradation to natural resources in the 1950s and 60s.

        The EPA is responsible for the protection of human and environmental health. They provide rules that govern how we use natural resources in the United States. They also provide technical assistance to environmentally-related infrastructure, such as supporting the creation of wastewater treatment plants.

        The EPA’s main duties include:

        • Promoting energy efficiency
        • Supporting environmental stewardship
        • Ensuring sustainable growth
        • Protecting air and water quality
        • Preventing pollution

        The EPA is responsible for guiding us to a safer and cleaner environment. They make decisions based on what is best for the environment as well as for humanity. By ensuring our water is clean, we use resources responsibly, and our waste is taken care of correctly, we can continue to depend on natural resources that support human health. 

        While the EPA is an American agency, its innovative work inspires governments and environmental agencies around the world, and many countries have similar agencies. 

        What Are The Three Major Responsibilities Of The EPA?

        The EPA has various responsibilities to help ensure that the environment, as well as the people of America, are kept safe and clean. Below are three of the major responsibilities that they hold. 

        1. Americans have clean air, land, and water
        2. National efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information
        3. Federal laws protecting human health and the environment are administered and enforced fairly, effectively, and as Congress intended

        The following responsibilities are derived from their mission statement and what they intend to accomplish while they are operating.

        Additionally, they are responsible for creating laws that protect human health as well as the environment. They strive to guarantee that no matter who you are, you have access to a clean environment. Animals and critters of all types are included in this group.  

        How Does the EPA Affect Businesses?

        The EPA provides regulations that govern how businesses conduct their practices in order to reduce damage to human health and the environment. People across the United States are becoming more aware of environmentally friendly processes to help ensure that the environment is harmed as little as possible when it comes to manufacturing and other industries. While some of this is due to increasing pressure from consumers to “go green,” many businesses today are more environmentally conscious as a result of regulatory pressure from the EPA.

        EPA provides businesses with guidelines that ensure the environment around the business is kept as safe as possible from toxins and gases emitted into air, water, or land. These requirements have pushed companies to change the way their business affects the environment. 

        For example, The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulates the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waterways, helping protect the health of the ecosystem and humans that live nearby. Another example of an EPA regulation that impacts business is the The EPA Safer Choice program, which requires companies to label products in a way that helps consumers make safe choices when it comes to the chemicals in products they use in their homes.

        What Has The EPA Done For America Over The Years?

        There are several laws and regulations that the EPA has put into place over the years that have helped ensure the safety of humankind as well as the environment. These include:

        • In 1970, the EPA passed the Clean Air Act, which gave them the power to fight air pollution. This is one of the EPA’s major roles today. Read more: History of Air Pollution and Protection.
        • In 1971, the EPA, in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, banned the use of lead-based interior paints in residences built or renovated by the federal government. This aimed to protect children’s health through lead-based paint prevention activities. 
        • In 1972, the EPA banned the use of DDT, a commonly used pesticide that was found to cause cancer and endanger the environment.
        • In 1985, British scientists discovered a giant hole in the ozone layer, a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that protects us from UV radiation. The EPA participated in an international convention in Vienna. As part of the convention, a worldwide cooperative effort was called to help eliminate the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer.

        The Bottom Line 

        EPA programs work to ensure that we are using natural resources responsibly while taking care of the health and wellbeing of all living organisms. While we often take natural resources in our every day lives for granted, we have the EPA to thank for our breathable air and clean water.