Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 2

Typically offered in

Spring semester

Course description
  1. Nature conservation and environmental protection: Definitions, relationships and differences in scope and activities. Reasons for concentrating on nature conservation. Classic versus integrative nature conservation.

  2. Biodiversity Concept and global patterns of biodiversity. Concepts of rarity and threat. Natural heritage in the Carpathian basin.

  3. Biodiversity crisis and major causes I. Historic rates of species extinctions. Rate of human induced extinctions. Vulnerability to extinction. Most vulnerable species. Why islands and endemic species are so vulnerable? Conservation categories (IUCN).

  4. Biodiversity crisis and major causes II. The problem of human population growth. Major human activities threatening biodiversity. Biological consequences of habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation.

  5. Biodiversity crisis and major causes III. Effects of overexploitation of natural populations. Scientific bases of sustainable harvest.

  6. Biodiversity crisis and major causes IV. Conservation problems caused by invasive species. Biological bases of successful invasion. Ways of controlling invasive species.

  7. Biodiversity crisis and major causes V. Climate change in the geological past and in recent times. Estimated biological effects of global climate change. Likely conservation problems and ways of treating them.

  8. Biological bases of population level conservation I. Genetic bases of conserving populations. Minimum viable population. Characteristics affecting extinction risk of populations. Metapopulations. Key-stone species, umbrella species and the importance of their protection.

  9. Biological bases of population level conservation II. Applied population biology – the basis of practical conservation. Gathering ecological information. Protection of wild populations of plant and animals.

  10. Biological bases of population level conservation III. Ex situ conservation: zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, arboretums, seed banks. Establishing new populations: considerations for successful programs. Monitoring populations. Success and failure in Hungarian programs.

  11. In situ conservation – protected areas I. Systematic conservation planning. The importance of establishing protected areas, and of protecting whole communities. The importance land use history in conservation planning. Priorities for selecting locations of protected areas.

  12. In situ conservation – protected areas II. Landscape ecology and park design: linking reserves into functional networks, habitat corridors, risk assessment. Zoning protected areas. Monitoring the status of protected areas. Characteristics of conserving terrestrial and aquatic communities.

  13. In situ conservation – protected areas III. Social and economic aspects of in situ conservation. Use of renewable resources, ecotourism. Positive and negative examples.

  14. Nature conservation in Hungary Legal framework determining tasks and possibilities of conservation. Protected areas in Hungary. The Natura 2000 network. Conflicts between economic development, rural development and nature conservation.

  15. The responsibility and possibilities of individuals in preserving our natural environment. Individual choices in developing an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Research needs for developing the efficiency of conservation.

  • Major text: Primack, R. B. 2014. Essentials of Conservation Biology. 6th ed. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland