People and the natural world have been bound together throughout history. Lewis and Clark mapped the wilderness of the United States to find new ways for us to expand and grow. Indian cultures work in harmony with nature seeing themselves as part of it and not quite so separated from it as Lewis and Clark felt. The natural world has long provided us with food, shelter, beauty and the materials needed for some of our greatest technologies. Despite all of this, we’ve reached a time where our own wonders (cars, the internet, cell phones, etc.) have consumed our interest and left the natural world to fall to the way-side aside from when we need it for our own destructive purposes.
The natural world is far more beneficial to us than just for raw materials. Although through our own means we have built sky-scrappers, painted the Mono Lisa and sculpted David – all of which are beautiful- our written word and our own experiences tell us that these are not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as some of the things that can be found in nature. In the 18th century transcendentalists like Henry David Thoreau understood the value of nature. They wrote stories and fought to make sure that cities and emerging suburbs had natural surrounding worked into the city environment in order to help with people’s mental well being and bring spiritual clarity. This helped to spark public park and playground reforms.
People have long since recognized these benefits and because of such have tried to protect the natural world through nature reserves. These nature reserves are meant to act as ‘Æ'”¹ — “reservoirs’ of species that allow wildlife protection and safety so that they can reproduce and eventually spread back in to the surrounding environment when conditions become more favorable to do so. These also offer us special benefits. Through nature reserves our scientists are able to study biodiversity, eco-systems and conservation management. They also offer other educational opportunities for our youth such as learning about evolution, community rituals and habits and help to give students a sense of responsibility, awe and wonder. Lastly, nature reserves can be quite affective for their surrounding communities. They improve the quality of life for the residents of the community physically through fresh air and activity, mentally through its beauty and serenity and economically, if done right, through higher population rates, hotel and retail shop income from visitors, and lower tax brackets.
Despite the plentiful benefits from nature and the attempt to protect it with nature reserves, nature reserves are facing ever increasing problems. Overall since the 19th century the number of nature reserves worldwide has increased, but the goal of nature reserves has been in steady decline as we push the extinction of species at a 1000 times the rate that the natural order does.
Governments and law enforcement help to control the amount of land set aside for reserves and set safety regulations to prevent things like poaching and enforce things like electric fences that protect against dangerous and invasive species. Because the government is heavily involved, nature reserves take hits with changes in government, times of economic crisis and when budgets are re-allocated. As we’ll see later, these problems can be circumvented with private ownership.
Problems also surface due to political policy. An example of this is fiscal spending and budget cuts. Last year in the UK, the Cabinet decided to cut the budget that they had originally set by 40%. This money would have gone towards linking some of their reserves together to create biodiversity. According to biologists in the area, this decision will leave a series of incomplete eco-systems that if not completely destroyed may be fragmented to the degree that individual fragments are too small to hold viable populations of many species for long. These incomplete eco-systems leave for unchecked species growth, limited resources for species and hinders some of these species only defense mechanisms against other predators.
Due to budgets, the largest reserves on the planet tend to be in high mountains, dry desserts, the tundra and other areas that are not very rich in species but also don’t require a lot of money to purchase or maintain. Reserves that are set up in more expensive hot spots areas, like in-land in Africa and in counties in California, are often too small to support the endangered species of that area indefinitely which has been dubbed by scientists as the “Noah’s Arc effect.” If reserves are privately owned, larger locations in more desirable areas could be obtained and still make a profit if focused on damage controlled eco-tourism and green psychology as well as preservation, as we’ll see later on.
Private owned nature reserves and damage controlled eco-tourism will minimize the problems of encroachment and eco-tourism. This profitable solution that will protect the natural environment and ensure maximum benefits for humans is privately owned, interactive nature reserves. These reserves will be about 35,000 acres in size and will use natural resources in the land such as lakes and rivers to help fuel the habitats and provide entertainment for human guests. Of these 35,000 acres, 5,000-10,000 acres will be open to the public. Guests will have the option to go into the surrounding closed off areas as long as a two week long wilderness safety and awareness program is successfully completed. The nature reserve itself will consist of the overall nature reserve with the 5,000-10,000 acre parcel for people towards the center of the reserve and cut off from the rest of the reserve by a river. See appendix I. The main river separating the two areas will be open to the public but will be fenced off on the outside to prevent people from crossing over into the protected part of the reserve. This main river will have rivers that separate off and lakes for the animals of the reserve to get their water from. The protected portion of the reserve will have a complete eco-system. The acreage set aside for the guests will be more tempered for their enjoyment. It will enjoy species such as deer, raccoons, sheep, cattle, etc., as well as numerous forms of plant life. This will help to keep visitors in awe of the natural surroundings but also protected from more dangerous species that will be present in the protected part of the reserve.
Numerous activities will also be offered at the reserve in order to entertain our special guests. Near the parking area for the reserve will be a small circular building that will play movie theater style showings for free of videos about the nature reserve, species in the nature reserve and endangered animals. Towards the entrance to the nature reserve will be a large circular building charging a two to seven dollar admissions fee. This building will host interactive activities, videos, hands-on science projects, etc. This building will also take care of selling tickets into the actual reserve as well as things like bike rentals, camping site rentals, hiking gear rentals and canoe, raft and paddle boat rentals for guests to see the park from the river. Also inside, guests will have the option to rent a made-for-media ‘Æ'”¹ — “point-n-click’ device. These devices will allow guests to point them at different species of animals and plants in the reserve and click in order to bring up information about the species on the screen of their device.
As previously mentioned this venue could be just as profitable to us financially as it will be to the inhabitants prosperity. Working with local nature and animal organizations, local residents, and local and federal government, land can often be purchased at an affordable rate for wilderness protection endeavors. Offering to publicize local businesses as supporters of green environments can also get you substantial discounts in terms of the fencing required, the construction of the two required buildings and bath room units throughout the public area of the reserve. It will also afford you discounts on buying bikes, canoes, hiking gear, etc in bulk which you can turn around and profit off of by renting them out guests each year.
Once the nature reserve is up and running, the size of the nature reserve, the minimal human contact and the scientific design by conservation biologists will help to ensure that the eco-system will run fine on its own with minimal costs. The human aspects of the reserve can be paid for with donations, animal and plant sponsorships, fundraising, ticket sales and partnerships. Donations will come from the community and from ‘friends of the reserve.’ These friends that donate a minimum of $2,500 in one year will also receive complimentary tickets to a bi-annual event held in their honor which fill feature dinner and entertainment. Fundraising will include movies shown in the park to raise money through tickets, ticket sales for a benefits dinner held 4 times a year open to the public, etc. Partnership can be made with local businesses. You can offer discount tickets to the reserve for packaged deals at local hotels and restaurants which will help increase reserve visits and also bring in some money from the hotels.
Sponsorships for the reserve will be modeled off of the Central Park Conservatory that raises a few millions dollars each year through this method. People and organizations will pay $4,000 to sponsor a plant species of their choice from the reserves for a year or $8,500 to sponsor an animal species of their choice. Sponsors will receive a plaque in the main tech building to show their support and will also have their information show up on the Point N’ Click device when their sponsor is clicked on. This information will also show up on the commemoration cds for the Point N’ Click device so that the sponsors are well advertised as advocates. Volunteers can also be used to help minimize some of the costs from staffing. A program can also be put in place to offer a free sponsorship plaque and recognition for volunteers who donate a certain amount of their time. This will help to ensure volunteer hours and will also allow people who can’Æ'”¹ — “t afford sponsorships to still show their dedication to the environment.