3.4 Conservation of biodiversity

Significant ideas:

  • The impact of losing biodiversity drives conservation efforts.
  • The variety of arguments given for the conservation of biodiversity will depend on EVSs.
  • There are various approaches to the conservation of biodiversity, each with associated strengths and limitations.

Knowledge and understanding:

  1. Arguments about species and habitat preservation can be based on aesthetic, ecological, economic, ethical and social justifications.
  2. International, governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in conserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, with varying levels of effectiveness due to their use of media, speed of response, diplomatic constraints, financial resources and political influence.
  3. Recent international conventions on biodiversity work to create collaboration between nations for biodiversity conservation.
  4. Conservation approaches include habitat conservation, species-based conservation and a mixed approach.
  5. Criteria for consideration when designing protected areas include size, shape, edge effects, corridors, and proximity to potential human influence.
  6. Alternative approaches to the development of protected areas are species-based conservation strategies including:
    • CITES
    • captive breeding and reintroduction programmes, and zoos
    • selection of “charismatic” species to help protect others in an area (flagship species)
    • selection of keystone species to protect the integrity of the food web.
  7. Community support, adequate funding and proper research influence the success of conservation efforts.
  8. The location of a conservation area in a country is a significant factor in the success of the conservation effort. Surrounding land use for the conservation area and distance from urban centres are important factors for consideration in conservation area design.

Applications and skills:

  • Explain the criteria used to design and manage protected areas.
  • Evaluate the success of a given protected area.
  • Evaluate different approaches to protecting biodiversity.


  • International organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and Earth First! undertake global programmes in terms of conservation of biodiversity.

Theory of knowledge:

  • There are various approaches to the conservation of biodiversity—how can we determine when we should be disposed to act on what we know?


  • Environmental value systems (1.1)
  • Communities and ecosystems (2.2)
  • Resource use in society (8.2)