Science: An Elementary Teacher’s Guide/Environmental stewardship

Environmental Stewardship, Green Lane, Tunstall - - 53116

  Environmental Stewardship, Green Lane, Tunstall. The corner of this field has been planted with sunflowers as part of the Environmental Stewardship operated by DEFRA to provide a food source

Introduction edit

Environmental stewardship refers to responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices. Some people want to be stewards over the land for environmental reasons; others want to be good stewards for religious or spiritual reasons, while others simply want to have a longer view of the impact of our actions. Aldo Leopold championed environmental stewardship based on a land ethic. A land ethic is a philosophy or theoretical framework about how, ethically, humans should regard the land. Leopold argued that there was a critical need for an "ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it".

Types of Environmental Stewards edit


  On June 12, hundreds of NOAA employees and partners participated in the 4th annual NOAA Restoration Day in Maryland and Virginia. NOAA Restoration Day is one of the largest voluntary federal employee sponsored environmental stewardship events in the Bay watershed. Volunteers planted underwater grasses grown in 22 tanks in NOAA offices, transplanted wild rice, performed fish seining and sampling, mapped and removed invasive plants, completed digital elevation mapping, and more.

There are three types of environmental stewards: doers, donors, and practitioners. Doers are the people that help a cause by taking action. In an oil spill the doers are the ones who come out and volunteer to help clean up the oil from the beach. Next there are donors. A donor is a person or organization that provides help financially. In an oil spill the donor will be the one to pay for materials needed to clean up the oil spill and beaches and would possibly hold fundraisers for the cause. Lastly there are practitioners. For practitioners it is their job, to work day-to-day to steer scientists or any other group toward a stewardship outcome. All three types of stewards are fundamental in conservation efforts.

Environmental Concerns edit

The ecosystems of the planet are interconnected and provide services that are essential to life (including human life). As we change and degrade ecosystems they are less able to provide these essential services. Here are some of the many environmental concerns we must address:

  1. Deforestation: The challenge in maintaining forest while supporting local livelihood has been a challenge for years. Conceiving of the forest not just as standing lumber but also recognizing its ecosystem services (such as providing clean water, clean air, and soil stability) has helped prevent destruction, but the rate of deforestation continues to accelerate. Since 1990 more than 300,000 square miles of forest has been lost in the Amazon.
  2. ClimateChange: This is one of the biggest environmental challenge that exists. This impacts human societies as well as species distributions and ecosystems. The primary driver is production of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. “The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement.
  3. Agriculture: Industrial agriculture has been a great socially unsustainable environmental and human health hazard. Reevaluating how food is produced without all the chemicals used will help restore natural and human communities and bring agriculture back into being a livable place on earth.
  4. Oceans: A large space worthy of conservation is taking a toll in both human and animal life. Home to numerous species, and the source of livelihood for people everywhere, oceans are suffering from overfishing, pollution, and acidification and warming. The care of the oceans is foremost to the long-term health of the planet and its inhabitants.
  5. Habitat Degradation such as the Pacific Garbage Patch or converting wilderness to farmland (or farmland to sky scrapers). New chemical compounds may be added to landscapes and accumulate in foods and tissues (such as Glyphosate from RoundUp).

Recycling and Technology edit

Recycling symbol

The proper mineral resources is never 100 percent disposed efficiently. Its a concern that certain amounts of waste materials, air pollutants, are left behind. Technology had evolved over these past year we are now looking at our salvation this tool increases the efficiency of the operations that a higher percentage of valuable materials can be saved and used. Harmful chemicals are also being cleaned from the gaseous waste before being spewed into the atmosphere, and sometimes these chemicals can be reused in other forms.

In an effort to help people are doing a lot more recycling effort include properly disposing of scarp metals, iron, aluminum, lead, and copper. The need to reuse minerals over, and over, in order to extend the service of those resources, will to grow as the consumer demands rise and the high-grade ore diminishes.

Natural Resources edit

Ever since the earth was inhabited, humans and other life forms have depended on things that exist freely in nature to survive. These things include water (seas and fresh water), land, soils, rocks, forests (vegetation), animals (including fish), fossil fuels and minerals. They are called Natural Resources and are the basis of life on earth.

Conservation and Protection edit

Environmental conservation is an umbrella term that defines anything we do to protect our planet and conserve its natural resources so that every living thing can have an improved quality of life. Environmental conservation comes in many forms and reminds us to be mindful of daily choices. No matter how busy your life may be, it remains fairly easy to make small, yet necessary, changes for the good of the Earth. If we all took little steps, we would make our way towards major progress. This can be achieved by paying more attention to what we buy and not using resources unnecessarily. We must also remember to recycle and dispose of chemicals properly so that the ground and bodies of water are not poisoned.

Permaculture edit

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on observing the patterns and features in natural ecosystems then partnering with nature to enrich landscapes. Bill Mollison is recognized as the founder of permaculture (and inventor of the term in 1978). The word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture", but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture", as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy. Mollison has said: "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." One of Bill's students, Geoff Lawton, has become the recognized leader of the permaculture movement, teaching groups in climates around the world. In the U.S. Paul Wheaton runs a very active online community (see below) as well as a large-scale demonstration site in Montana. In Austria Sepp Holzer has shown what is possible through careful observation, good design, and partnering with natural processes. Paul Stamets is renowned for his insights into the benefits of partnering with fungi.

The permaculture movement is founded on 3 ethical principles and 12 design principles.

Ethical Foundation

  1. Care for the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
  2. Care for the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
  3. Return of surplus: Reinvesting surpluses back into the system to provide for the first two ethics. This includes returning waste back into the system to recycle into usefulness. The third ethic is sometimes referred to as Fair Share to reflect that each of us should take no more than what we need before we reinvest the surplus.

Design Principles

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

External Resources

  • Permies is a massive online forum of all things permaculture, run by Paul Wheaton in Montana.
  • Permaculture News is a curated collection, run by Geoff Lawton in Australia.