Most of us know what an ecosystem is: we’ve read the definition in school or been told about it. But do you know what ecosystem restoration is? If not, read on, because this is one of the most important things for us going ahead. The purpose of this article is twofold: to give you awareness of the topic and to help you take positive environmental action.
Theme for World Environment Day 2021
In 2021, the theme for World Environment Day was “Ecosystem Restoration”. This has kicked off the United Nations Decade on Environmental Restoration. The United Nations Environment Programme has called on all of us to take action and become #GenerationRestoration (the full report is titled Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature, and Climate). This will involve immediate, sustained, and focussed action on restoring large areas of land and various ecosystems. Basically, it is an appeal to human beings all over the world. Are you getting some idea of this concept’s importance? This might sound like a mighty undertaking that is beyond any individual, but that is not the case. Ecosystem restoration is a field where each of us can contribute and bring concrete change.
Individual Action Matters
Since we are dependent on the interconnected ecosystems of our planet, our actions to restore and heal them are essential to our survival as a species.
But how would we bring improvements as a species if there is no individual action? Change begins with you. If each of us begins to live by the ethos or logic of ecosystem restoration, large-scale and collective action will follow. There is no doubt that our ecosystems have been severely harmed by immoderate usage of resources (damage caused to forests affects forest ecosystems on the whole), unsustainable development projects (think of the effect of large dams on river ecosystems or the potential effect of the diamond project in Buxwaha Forest), immense pollution and waste-production (plastic waste ends up in ocean ecosystems). Bleak as these facts are, things can be turned around. So, how can YOU adopt ecosystem restoration as a way of life?
What You Can Do?
Make ecosystem restoration your lifestyle and become a valuable part of #GenerationRestoration by following these simple steps (in no way an exhaustive list)!
- You can participate in reforestation drives. Plant trees, or grow plants right in your backyard!
- Participate in clean-up campaigns (such as the one Prshni Organisation held in December 2020) or just take the responsibility of keeping your surroundings clean!
- You can also learn more and more about nature and start building an emotional connection with it. For example, spending time in nature impacts your mental health.
- Cut down on plastic usage. I know you keep hearing this, but that is because this is absolutely essential! There are quite a few ways to reduce plastic usage, such as those mentioned in our short and important guide to “breaking up” with plastic.
- Reduce your overall waste generation by reusing things as much as possible (for example, a plastic jar can become a pen-holder, especially after a fun process of decoration). Reduce paper usage and use recycled paper. In fact, make sure to recycle all recyclable materials (here’s a list I found on the internet). You already know this: the 3Rs in practice!
- If you menstruate, try and implement sustainable menstruation practices.
- Develop healthy practices at home such as cutting down on electricity usage and composting your food scraps.
- Veganism helps the environment more than you think. It cuts down on greenhouse gas emission and prevents the meat and leather industry from exploiting animal life!
- Buy your clothes from sustainable sources such as thrift stores.
You can even make gifting sustainable, using this handy little guide.
Transformation: Needed and Possible
We hear a lot about why change is needed, but not much about how it is achievable. So while you keep the necessity of ecosystem restoration in mind, also remember that our ecosystems will improve as long as we keep working towards this improvement!
If we are able to be consistent in our efforts, our lives too will change for the better. I would like to add a quotation from the UNEP report itself to make this clear:
“If we can manage to reverse this trend, massive gains await us. Reviving ecosystems and other natural solutions could contribute over one-third of the total climate mitigation needed by 2030. Restoration can also curb the risk of mass species extinctions and future pandemics. Agroforestry alone could increase food security for 1.3 billion people.”
I hope that this article has achieved its dual purpose. And I hope that you feel inspired to personally work towards this global initiative. Use your personal determination to help others become a part of the effort too. You carry the power of inspiration in you: use it! Together, let us reverse the degradation of our ecosystems and take care of our shared home!
Prshni Organisation held a handmade poster-making competition, Kalā, in July! One of the topics was Ecosystem Restoration! If you want to look at some great artwork on this topic, go to our Instagram page (that is where we have declared the results): https://instagram.com/prshniorg