Conserve vs Protect
While some writers use conserve, preserve, protect and save interchangably, these words have different meanings and connotations.
Conserving: ensuring that something is used wisely (with land for instance, it's ensuring something is used wisely to benefit nature on a local-global scale)
Preserving: keeping something as it is
Protecting: conserving or preserving something from a threat. When using, be specific about what the threat is (e.g. development)
Saving: similar to protecting, but with a more dramatic quality. Protecting and saving should be used carefully in regions where land conservation is a heated subject, like in the western United States.
When referring to plants or animals, indigenous should be left uncapitalized.
When referring to people, Indigenous should be capitalized out of respect for their humanity, and to differentiate them from plants or animals.
As a collective noun, Indigenous peoples can be used (as opposed to people) to reflect a diversity of individual Indigenous cultures.
Pristine / Wilderness
Avoid this adjective as much as possible. It typically overstates the untouched quality of a landscape. In reality, most landscapes have been inhabited or shaped in some way by (often Indigenous) human existence.
The same concept should be used for "wilderness." In the U.S. there are public lands that are classified as Wilderness (part of the National Wilderness Protection System). Outside of those lands, refrain from using wilderness as a descriptive term.
Plant/Animal Common Names
Lowercase unless they contain a proper name that would be capitalized in a normal context.
No proper name e.g. burrowing owl, black-capped vireo, sandhill crane
Proper name e.g. Florida panther, Kirtland’s warbler, Black Mountain salamander
Plant/Animal Latin Names
Common names are acceptable everywhere. Latin names are at author’s discretion. The genus name is always capitalized, while the species, subspecies and variety names never capitalized, even when used alone (except at the beginning of a sentence). Italicize.
Ursa actos horribilis
Subsequent mentions of specific geographic bodies like the Atlantic Ocean or the Mississippi River should not be capitalized. e.g. the ocean or the river
The Gulf of Mexico – the Gulf
The Panama Canal – the Canal
Niagara Falls – the Falls
Some specific usages to know
buffalo vs bison – Bison is the scientifically correct term for the American bison. Buffalo is an acceptable American colloquialism
cactuses – not cacti
clear-cut – hyphenated
decision-maker – hyphenated
Earth – the planet, capitalized
earth – dirt and mud, not capitalized
floodplain – no hyphen
flyway – capitalize if part of a specific flyway e.g. Atlantic Flyway
forestland – one word
freshwater – adj, e.g. freshwater ponds
fresh water – noun, e.g. supply of fresh water
hot spot – two words
nearshore or offshore – one word, no hyphen
pinyon – not piñon
riverbank – one word
runoff – one word
salt marsh – two words
saltwater – adj, e.g. saltwater intrusion
salt water – noun, e.g. filled with salt water
sandstone – one word
savanna – not savannah
scrub-jay – hyphenated
sea grass – two words
stormwater – one word
stream bank – two words
wastewater – one word
waterfowl – one word
water fund – two words