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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

10 - Conservation and management


Why conserve marsupials?

What is biological diversity and why is its conservation vital for human wellbeing?

The conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity) has become a major objective of most nations in the world in recent years and was adopted as an aim by the many nations that have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (the Rio Convention). There are four main arguments for conserving living things and the ecosystems that they form.

The first is that simple compassion demands their preservation. Compassion develops from the view that other species have a right to exist – the needs and desires of humans should not be the only basis for ethical decisions. The second argument is based on aesthetics. Plants and animals should be preserved because of their beauty, symbolic value or intrinsic interest. Most people would feel a loss if the world's beautiful and interesting plants and animals, and the wild places they inhabit, disappeared.

Compassion and a sense of wonder are two qualities that distinguish humans from other animals, but unfortunately not all people share these attributes to the same degree. The third argument, however, is one that nearly everyone can understand – money. Unique plants and animals attract tourists to different parts of the world. Plants, animals and microorganisms provide nearly all our food and almost all our medicines and drugs. They also provide renewable resources like paper, leather, fuel and building materials. So far we have used only a minute proportion of nature's storehouse.

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