I would take it a step farther and propose that it is human nature to exploit the resource to maximize one's best interest. Meaning, if I found a pile of gold coins in the woods (symbolic of a resource), I would take every single one of those gold coins home and live happily ever after. Only when government intervenes and limits the rate of gold coins being taken to the rate that new gold coins fall out of the ferry butts can conservation be accomplished. Now leaving the pile of coins undisturbed is symbolic of preservation.
Not convinced that just leaving it alone is "best". Michael Pollan points out you can exploit the grass on high hills/mountains using sheep and goats. You extract meat and wool, the grass grows back, and if the sheep were not grazing, it might turn to bush ( in this case extraction equals preservation)
Sometimes you preserve by intervening. There's a great story about wolves changing the course of waters in Yosemite.. Once re-introduced they scared the deer from the streams, which let the water plants grow back, which altered the character of the waterways. No wolves, too many deer, overfeeding at the stream bank, and a mud run in place of a Yosemite stream
Now, at the other end of the spectrum is strip mining company that goes bankrupt. The mountain top is gone, and the government is left chasing successor companies to clean up the mess the mine tailings made. There preservation in the sense you use would be a great idea