It’s World Environment Day! Just take a look at the world around you, should we not do better in protecting it? From the first world environment day celebrated in 1974 with the slogan; ‘Only One Earth’; we are here in 2021 celebrating with ‘Reimagine, Recreate, Restore’. What’s more? This year’s world environment day is ushering in the United Nations (UN) Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, which runs from year 2021 to 2030. World Environment Day offers us the opportunity to consider local and global environmental challenges, and also serve as call to action for governments, organizations and individuals.
What is Ecosystem Restoration?
It refers to the renewing, recovery and restoring of our ecosystems and habitats which have been damaged by the actions or involvement of humans. It is the recovery of ecosystems of all kinds: forests, wetlands, creeks and other habitats. Almost every ecosystem on earth has been changed by the activities of humans. Thus, ecosystem restoration will help habitats’ biological functions and their capacity to meet our present and future needs. It will also help to mould the environmental strength of our ecosystems.
How can our ecosystems be restored?
Reforestation: The World Bank states that 3.9 million square miles of forests have been cut since the beginning of the 20th century. It has been reported that one and a half acres of forests are cut down every seconds. If we don’t do anything, it is estimated that in the next 100 years, there will be no forests. Just as deforestation is a leading cause of global warming, deforestation can mitigate global warming and contribute to ecosystem restoration. Trees have the ability to reduce our global footprints, absorb harmful gases in the atmosphere, aid wildlife, including soil and water conservation.
Removal of Invasive Species: Invasive species are organisms (plants, animals and other microorganisms) introduced into new environments where they are not native. They cause ecological and economic harm and negatively alter the ecological chain and food web of the new environment. While some might argue that invasive or alien species have their advantages, their disadvantages far outweigh the advantages they may offer, especially in the long run. Invasive species are leading cause of biodiversity loss. Restoration initiatives to remove invasive species can benefit native species, giving them the chance to thrive without intrusion or competition, including improving biodiversity and conservation gains.
Recycle: This includes the collection and use of materials that would have been wastes and turning them into new products. Examples of recyclable materials include papers, metals, batteries, cans and glass. Apart from reducing the amount of wastes in the environment, recycle processes help conserve resources that will be used for making new raw materials, prevent pollution, saves energy and money, lead to economic security and the protection of our ecosystem.
Upcycle: Also known as ‘Repurpose’; is the innovative reuse or the alteration and revamp of unwanted waste materials into new products, which are of ample quality, artistic significance, and of course, environmental value. It is simply the process of giving new lives to old products. Examples of upcycle projects include newspapers repurposed into flower pots, eye glasses into photo frames, plastic jars for keeping spices, and bottles for pendant lights. When we upcycle products, we can contribute to ecosystem restoration by reducing wastes in the environment, and adding some creativity to our space.
Green Technologies: This is the use of technology to create products that are environmentally friendly and efficient. The ultimate goal of these technologies is to conserve resources, protect and restore the environment. Solar flowers, plant walls, plastic roads, hydroelectric dams, water purification machines, green roofs and sustainable phones are examples of green technologies. These technologies reduce green house gases, reduce wastes, manage and save money. Though it is still an emerging aspect of environmental protection, it is an exciting one with long lasting benefits.
The benefits of ecosystem restoration cannot be overemphasized enough! The economic benefits of restoration yield much more compared to its cost. Thus, investing in our ecosystem is investing in the future.
Undoubtedly, if we want improve biodiversity, enlarge our accessibility to environmental goods and services, prevent species extinction, regulate diseases, educe threat of disasters, advance our growth and well being, and improve ecological processes, we need to take ecosystem restoration seriously. Restoring is important as a strategy against pandemics, especially Covid 19. In fact, according to the United Nations, ecosystem restoration can help to achieve all the sustainable development goals. Isn’t this amazing?
Every one of us can take part in ecosystem restoration initiatives. We need to prevent, halt and reverse the damage we have done to the environment and restore it.
Ananwureyi Ohine Joy is a Bachelor of Laws graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a lover of the environment and loves celebrating International days. She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.