What is the added value of conservation education?

Joy de Vos
13 April 2017

So what do I mean exactly when I talk about ‘conservation education’? Well, conservation education is the process where one tries to influence people’s attitudes, knowledge, emotions and behavior, concerning the preservation of natural resources. Water, vegetation and animals are examples of natural resources. Sadly enough, natural resources, such as land and water, are under threat because of human activities. The 3 main threats that these resources face are overpopulation, climate change and environmental pollution. The scary thing is that most natural resources are non-renewable. This means that once they are depleted, they are just gone…forever. The scarier thing is that this environmental pollution jeopardizes the survival of all life – so yes, also that of humans.

‘So how do we reduce these negative effects then?’ is what you are probably thinking right now. Well here is where combining research with education comes in handy. In order to teach others about the conservation of the African elephant, for example, one needs to be aware of the latest data so that one can share these results through conservation education. In that way important knowledge sharing culture is created that is vital for the conservation of the African elephant (and all the other natural resources of course).

A perfect example of combining research with education is how NVT involves the public in their Fynbos work through participation in their bird ringing program. This is a great opportunity to:

  • Show the local community what kind of lovely birds occur in the fynbos.
  • To teach them why it is important that South Africa’s unique vegetation stays conserved.
  • To show how the ringing process takes place.
  • To teach them why bird-ringing is a helpful research tool for the study of migratory birds. It helps NVT to collect important data such as the migration patterns, lifespan and the reproductive success of the birds.


photo credit: Selena Flores


NVT’s conservation education staff uses curriculum based initiatives to reach over 5000 community members each year, making this one of the biggest environmental education initiatives in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa. By offering educational experiences and activities for different populations of varying age groups NVT helps them understand and treasure the natural resources. Also, one can help them understand why conservation should be an integral part of how they live their lives. By doing that, they can be taught how to conserve the resources for the next generations. If you would like to know more about NVT’s Conservation Education activities, then please have a look at their Conservation Education page.

P.S. If you want to live a more ‘natural resources friendly’ lifestyle then you should definitely read my next blog at the beginning of May because there will be lots of handy tips! Also, on the 6th of May, Bea Johnson is coming to Plettenberg Bay with her ‘Zero Waste Tour’. If you want to learn more about this zero waste principle, then you should definitely drop by! You can check out this link for more information about the event.