I was recently asked whether I was a conservationist or an environmentalist. I must confess that I had not given much thought to the difference between the two. I have since sought to enlighten myself and want to share some thoughts with my readers.
Apparently conservationists believe in scientifically managed use of natural resources while environmentalists maintain that "nature knows best" and our remaining wildernesses should be left unmanaged for anything except primitive recreation. They believe human intervention is generally harmful to natural resources.
As for myself, I have somewhat of a split personality while it comes to managing our natural resources. At heart I am a hard-core environmentalist. For example, I am appalled at plans to convert the Bangus Valley into a major tourist resort.
Having trekked through Bangus in happier times, the thought that this untamed paradise will soon be commercialised into a Pahalgam-like circus like torments my soul. I hope that a saner voice will call for preservation and the 'powers-that-be' shall listen.
However my optimism is tempered with a strong streak of realism. Political opportunism – combined with the fact that economic backwardness forces people in rural areas to jump on to the tourism bandwagon – means that areas like the Bangus Valley are doomed to progress.
Kashmir is a small valley with an exponentially increasing population and the pressure on our natural resources like land and water is immense. Even the most die-hard optimist will concede that commercialisation is inevitable, so the logical next step is to ensure that at least it is managed properly.
That, my friends, is the conservationist point of view – to which I am a reluctant subscriber.
Repost from WildKashmir