Did you know that Alabama has one of the richest biodiverse ecosystems in the United States? Yes, it's true! Because of this, conservation is very important to Alabama. According to National Geographic, conservation is the “act of protecting Earth’s natural resources for current and future generations.” Earth’s natural resources include plants, soil, water, minerals, air, and wildlife. Conservation is oftentimes confused with preservation as they both associate with the protection of nature but achieve their conclusions differently. Conservation strives to educate humans on the use of nature in more sustainable ways. Preservation strives to protect nature from human exploitation.
Why is conservation important in Alabama?
• Alabama is home to 44 threatened species, 86 endangered species, and 80 at-risk species. These species can be found here: https://www.fws.gov/southeast/alabama/
• Alabama is home to 25 forests, 7 prairies, 64 terrestrial ecosystems, dozens of marine ecosystems, and 11 wetlands.
• Alabama supports 132,000 miles of rivers.
• Alabama ranks 5th in species diversity.
• Alabama is ranked 7th for species that are endemic to the state.
Where does Alabama need improvement?
• In a report by Environmental Working Group in 2017, Alabama had the second-highest number of water systems that contained perfluorinated chemical contaminants.
• Alabama ranked 5th highest for toxic waterway pollution in 2017.
• In 2017, Alabama ranked 5th highest for industrial toxic air pollution.
• The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has been closely tracking where the state's garbage goes and they have noted that in 2018 Alabama recycled 16% of its total waste which is an improvement from 2011 but it is still below the national average of 34%.
• Habitat loss and degradation have placed Alabama as the 2nd highest state for species extinction.
Conservation and Preservation efforts of North Alabama
• The Land Trust of North Alabama has preserved 7,616 acres throughout 5 counties, 15+ miles of rivers and creeks, 56 caves, 297 acres of agricultural and grazing property, and 70+ miles of trails that make up 8 public nature preserves.
• The Recycling Alliance of North Alabama (RANA) was formed in 2019 as a division of the Solid Waste Disposal Authority for Huntsville.
• RANA launched its first Curbside Recycling Program for all Madison County residents in August of 2019.
• The Madison County District Administrative Coordinator created Conservation Education Workshops which were held across the state in 2017 and 2018.
• Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center located in Oak Mountain State Park is the largest and oldest wildlife rehabilitation center caring for more than 3,000 wild animals each year.