Study environmental conservation at home, extensive 100 hour foundation course, expert tutor support

Course Code: BEN201
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Online Course in Conservation for Managing the Environment

  • Explore environmental problems ranging from pollution to land degradation; that threaten urban, rural and wilderness landscapes
  • Discover options for better managing such problems and conserving both living and non living resources throughout the world.

I am finding it interesting and educational - it covers the primary facts and then encourages you to learn the details through the assignments and contacting numerous organisations involved in environmental issues. Jasmine Dungey, Aust - Conservation and Environmental Management course.
ACS Student comment:
How Can You Get involved and Learn More at the Same Time?
  • upskill - make sure that your skills are current and relevant to the field of conservation
  • join networking sites - meet people working in conservation
  • get experienced - volunteer your time with a conservation group if you can, this looks great on your CV.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction To Ecology
    • Spaceship Earth
    • Conservation; Use of Resources, ecological value, economic value, genetic diversity
    • Overkill
    • Urbanisation
    • Basic Ecology
    • The Ecosystem
    • Constituents for the Ecosystem
    • Ecological Concepts
    • The Web of Life; climate, producers, consumers, decomposersThe Food Web
    • Habitat and Niche
    • Humans in the Environment
    • Energy Flow
    • Imbalances
    • The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
    • Climate Change
    • El Nino
    • International Efforts to Counter Climate Change; IPCC, UNFCC, Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen Summit, Worldwatch Institute, etc
    • Terminology
  2. Perspective On Environmental Problems
    • History of Conservation
    • Natural Resources; Renewable, Non Renewable
    • Goals of Conservation
    • History from Industrial Revolution to WWII
    • WW2 and Post War Period
    • International Conservation
    • Deforestation
    • Loss of Agricultural Land
    • Loss of Biodiversity
    • Water Supplies
    • Exhaustion of Non Renewable Resources
    • Political and Economic Issues of Conservation
    • Environmental Damage in Free Economies
    • Pollution in Planned Economies
    • Supply of Resources
    • Limits to Growth
  3. Pollution and Industry Effects On The Environment
    • Nature and Scope of Pollution
    • Industrial Pollution
    • Types of Pollutants
    • Effects of Pollution
    • Nuclear Pollution
    • Sick Building Syndrome
    • Asbestos Fibre
    • Urbanisation
    • Energy Alternatives
    • Deforestation
    • Nuclear Energy, Hydro Power, Solar Energy, Wind, Waste Power
  4. Water and Soil
    • Dams
    • River Catchments
    • Wetlands
    • Water Pollution
    • Recycling
    • Desalination
    • Water Environments
    • Hydrological Cycle; Infiltration, Rainfall, Evaporation, Effective Rainfall, etc
    • Water and Plant Growth
    • Keeping Water Clean
    • Sewerage Treatment
    • Soil; pH, texture, structure
    • Land and Soil Degradation;
    • Loss of soil fertility
    • Erosion
    • Salinity
    • Soil compaction
    • Soil acidification
    • Build up of dangerous chemicals
  5. Vegetation Conservation and Management
    • Value of Trees
    • Commercial Value of Trees
    • Rainforests
    • Forest Systems and Biomass
    • Forest Conservation
    • Trees and the Environment
    • Environmental consequences of Deforestation
    • Afforestation
    • Classification of Forests
    • Desertification
    • Acid Rain
    • Environmental Weeds
    • Strategies for Preservation of Native Grasslands
  6. Animal Conservation and Management
    • Humans
    • Urbanisation
    • Wildlife
    • Threatened Species
    • Invasive Species
    • Wildlife Management; approaches, preservation, conservation, goals
    • Wildlife Habitats
    • Water Management for Wildlife
    • Wildlife Surveys
  7. Marine Conservation and Management
    • Estuaries
    • Fisheries; stock management, assessment, biomass, stock management methods
    • Conservation of Sandy Shores
  8. The Future
    • Tourism and the Environment
    • Ecotourism
    • Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)
    • Framework for ESD


  • Describe processes and associated sustainable management techniques related to ecology.
  • Study an environmental problem to determine possible solutions.
  • Evaluate the relationship between industry and pollution.
  • Discuss principles of water and soil management.
  • Select a plant group or type that is endangered, or which is an environmental problem.
  • Explain animal conservation strategies, including protection legislation, breeding programs and habitat conservation.
  • Discuss a specific conservation issue in detail.
  • Profile different conservation or environmental organisations to understand procedures used in promoting their cause(s).


Poor environmental management has consequences for all mankind.  If more people understand the environment, and these consequences, we then have a foundation upon which we can respond with better management practices. Without an understanding of what is happening though; we are likely to see the environment continue to be damaged and the resultant problems continue to grow.
Glaciation and Ice Loss
When the earth and the atmosphere experience a long term reduction in temperature, a period of ‘glaciation’ or ice age occurs. The times when the temperature is warmer than the glaciation periods is generally referred to as ‘inter-glaciation’. Before the industrial age carbon in the atmosphere was around 75% of current levels. It is predicted that atmospheric carbon will further increase by 15-20% from early 21st century levels by 2050. Such an increase will not only result in further increases in temperatures, but would ultimately cause the planet to experience a glaciation period in a few thousand years.
Flora and Fauna
In the wake of rising global temperatures animals and plants need to adapt or migrate to other climates in order to survive. Those that are unable to do so may well become extinct. In terms of agricultural crops, again only those suited to local conditions will thrive and this may mean that traditional crops of some countries would have to change, or new varieties would need to be developed which can withstand changes in growing conditions. It can, and usually does, take many years to develop new varieties.


Ocean Warming and Sea Levels
The warming of the oceans (and land) affects atmospheric moisture, precipitation and circulation. As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more moisture and this influences the frequency and duration of rainfall, as well as the intensity and amount. However, the precipitation trends vary from region to region around the globe.
As the oceans warm, the sea level rises. There are two main causes of the rising sea level. Firstly, higher temperatures cause the upper regions of oceans to warm and thermally expand to increase its volume. Secondly, higher temperatures cause increased melting of the ice caps which adds to water volume. It is estimated that sea level could rise around the globe by between 0.2 and 0.6m by the end of the 21st century. Rising sea levels have been recorded since 1961 and these vary from region to region due to differing changes in ocean temperatures, local winds, ocean currents, salinity levels, and other factors.
A rising sea level means that low lying areas are prone to flooding and many coastal regions where people tend to live may become inundated.
Due to the heating of the earth, large areas of frozen soil called ‘permafrost’, is beginning to melt. This is responsible, on one hand, for the occurrence of erosion and landslides which have greatly contributed towards the disappearance of the lakes on earth.
Permafrost is found mainly in the northern hemisphere, but it is also found to a lesser extent, in the southern part of the planet. In summer, the outermost layer of permafrost (or ‘active layer’) may experience melting, although it refreezes in winter. However, as the atmosphere continues to heat up, the active layer of permafrost is melting more than usual.
Because permafrost is an important reservoir of organic matter (mainly dead vegetation that remains stable throughout cold periods in that it doesn’t decompose during freezing temperatures), the continuous thawing of permafrost will inevitably release two heat-trapping gases: carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) into the atmosphere, which will directly affect global warming.
Extreme Weather Events
Global warming results in increased interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere which in turn results in greater frequency of extreme weather events such as supercharged storm cells which cause cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms and subsequent flooding or bush fires caused by lightning strikes.
In some areas, global warming will result in less rainfall. In these regions it is likely that prolonged periods of drought will become commonplace. In some of the harsher landscapes around the world, such as Central Africa, where rainfall is already nominal this could produce great famines and mass starvation.
Ozone Depletion
The ozone is one of the most important filters of the UV radiation emitted by the sun. Although the ozone belongs to an atmospheric layer between 10 and 50 kilometres high (stratosphere), it is easily affected by anthropogenic activities.
When UV radiation passes through the stratosphere (composed of molecules of oxygen in the form of O2), the oxygen molecule separates into individual atoms of oxygen. Therefore, in presence of a ‘catalyst’, one of these atoms of oxygen will bind together with O2; this is when Ozone (O3) is formed.
This layer of 3 molecules of oxygen bound together adds great protection against the harmful UV rays that may potentially hit the earth. This is why certain chemicals and other anthropogenic activities are and have been breaking these molecules apart and ‘thinning’ this layer that has helped to maintain a habitable life on earth. Although the main part of ozone depletion occurs above the poles (especially the South Pole), ozone depletion is a negative event that is also occurring throughout the rest of the world.
The depletion of the ozone layer is allowing more and more harmful UV rays to enter the earth, which is creating a major impact on human health.
Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect
The occurrence of global warming is increasing very fast nowadays. Much of it is due to manmade greenhouse gases, which in turn, create and increase what we call the ‘greenhouse effect’. As half of the atmosphere’s solar radiation is transmitted as short wave radiations (UV) and absorbed by the earth surface, a part of it is radiated back into the atmosphere as long wave radiation (infrared or IR) and absorbed by suspended air particles, such as clouds and air pollution, rather than being re-emitted through the atmosphere. This ‘trapping’ of heat causes a rise of temperature in the atmosphere and the surface of the earth. So, in short, the natural greenhouse effect is a warming process where some of the infrared radiation radiated from the earth is trapped and prevented from being released back into space.
There are many different greenhouse gases, but the most important ones are:
  • Water vapour
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s)
A great part of these gases come from natural sources. For example, more than half of the nitrous oxide in the atmosphere originates from the ocean and soil; marshlands and swamps as well as grazing cattle and termites are responsible for at least one-fourth of the world’s methane emissions. Conversely, mining, the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, industry growth, agricultural projecting and other human activities account for approximately 75% of the increase in greenhouse gases.
Due to the rise in air temperature, global warming has been known to affect the level and volume of the ocean (‘thermal expansion’). The melting of glaciers cause a rise in sea levels (approximately 25 centimetres in the last 100 years, and is expected to rise another 25 cm by the end of the year 2000), which can lead to natural disasters such as severe erosion, inland floods, disappearance of wetlands, and disturbance of beaches and coastal lifestyles. The temperatures are expected to raise approximately 3 degrees C in the next 100 years, which may seem insignificant at first glance, but the last glaciation era ended due to this same outcome.
An overheated earth’s surface due to greenhouse effects also brings about a rise in water vapour, creating an increase on the formation of clouds. These clouds will help prevent an excess of solar radiation penetrating the earth and will play a major role in cooling down the temperature that had been caused by greenhouse gas effects, avoiding, this way, an increase towards ‘global warming’. However, to global warming variations can highly affect precipitation patterns; while in some areas there may be an excess of rainfall, in others there may be more droughts, causing formation of swamps and extinctions of plant and animal species, respectively.
Cold waters act as one of the world’s major CO2 gas reductors, however, the more the temperature tends to rise on the earth, the less effective this natural mechanism becomes. Due to this effect, the excess of CO2 tends to concentrate in the atmosphere rather than being absorbed and recycled by the ocean, creating an increase in the greenhouse effect.
Why Study this Course 
  • As part of a larger qualification -Combine this with other related modules for a certificate or diploma
  • To fill a gap -You may need to know more about conservation and environmental management for a job you already have. Perhaps you have a lot of the right experience and knowledge; but your ability to advance in your career is impaired by a deficiency in this area
  • To serve your social responsibility -In reality, our environmental problems are bigger than any one individual. The more people who understand what our problems are, and how they  might be addressed; the greater our chance of saving the world from further environmental degradation
Whether you are studying this for personal reasons or to further your business or career prospects; this is a course that can provide you with a sound framework upon which you can develop an ever increasing capacity to better understand and manage the environment, throughout your entire life.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability.
Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop

Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand

Peter Douglas

Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management.
Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian.
Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to ap

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