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Nature Conservation Theory Notes

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A more recent version of these Nature Conservation Theory notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.

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Nature Conservation Theory Notes. The nature of Nature Conservation Law (what it protects). Eckersely:


Ecocentric perspectives: (i) Recognise the full range of human interests in the nonhuman world (going beyond resource conservation or human welfare ecology); (ii) Recognise interests of nonhumans (yet goes beyond preservationism); (iii) Recognises interests of future generations of nonhumans; and (iv) Values more than just the liberty of individual animals (as in animal liberationism) by valuing populations, ecosystems, species and the ecosphere as well as individuals.



Describing fish subject of US SC decision - conservationists discovered that the dam, costing $100m, would be likely to destroy the only habitat of the snail darter, a fish of no particular beauty or biological interest or general ecological importance.

Millenium Ecosystem Assessment:


'Ecosystem services' are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems.


Include provisioning services (timber, food, water), regulating services (climate, floods, disease), cultural services (recreational, aesthetic, spiritual), and supporting services (soil formation, photosynthesis). Human species fundamentally dependant on flow of ecosystem services.



In biodiversity conservation each species or habitat must be considered individually and acted on as such but also considered as part of a network of ecosystems.


This contrasts to emissions where greenhouse gasses can be considered as a whole and trade-offs made in the scheme of things.


Measures to protect blue whales have no benefit for red squirrels. Protecting a wading birds winter habitat is of no use if its summer habitat is then destroyed.
[Implicit in this is that there are winners and losers in all ecosystem conservation decisions - wading bird feeding ground can't be protected if a car park is to be built there].

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