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The World Environment Day on June 5 marked the formal launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a decade where efforts to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems will be made. The declaration of 2021-2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is purposeful and hopeful, bearing in mind the unsettling revelations of landmark scientific findings of the state of our biosphere. Let’s read what exactly is an ecosystem and can it be restored…
Ecosystem is a place where plants, animals and other organisms, in conjunction with the landscape around them, come together to form the web of life. Ecosystems can be large, like a forest, or small, like a pond. Many are crucial to human societies, providing people with water, food, building materials and a host of other essentials. They also provide planet-wide benefits like climate protection and biodiversity conservation. But in recent decades, humanity’s hunger for resources has pushed many ecosystems to the breaking point. Here are the eight main types of ecosystem and some of the things that can be done to revive them.
Over-intensive use, soil erosion, excess fertilizer and pesticides are exhausting many farmlands. Ways to restore them include reducing tillage, using more natural fertilizer and pest control, and growing more diverse crops, including trees. These steps can rebuild carbon stores in soils, making them more fertile so countries can feed their growing populations without using even more land. The restoration of farmland also creates habitats for wildlife.
Nitrogen from fertilizers used in industrial agriculture not only pollutes air and water, it also helps drive climate change.
Forests and trees are being cleared to feed humanity’s hunger for land and resources. Logging, firewood cutting, pollution, invasive pests and wildfires are damaging what remains. Restoring forest ecosystems means replanting and reducing the pressure on forests so that trees re-grow naturally. Food systems are a major driver of forest loss. Reconsidering the way people grow and consume food can help reduce the pressure on forests.
Forests provide a habitat for 80 per cent of the world’s amphibian species as well as most birds and mammals.
Lakes and rivers
Safe and abundant water has become a luxury. Freshwater ecosystems have been degraded by pollution, overfishing and infrastructure as well as the extraction of more and more water for irrigation, industry and homes. Restoration means halting pollution, reducing and treating waste, managing demand for water and fish, and reviving vegetation above and below the surface.
Many fish eat insects, so humanity can restore rivers by letting more insect-friendly plants grow on their banks.
(To be continued—)
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