Fungi are essential components of all terrestrial ecosystems
By Colombo Closet
This is our moment.
We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature.
Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid.
Today is World Environment Day 2021. The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is ‘Ecosystem Restoration’ along with the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a ten-year global push to prevent, halt and reverse degradation of ecosystems worldwide on every continent and in every ocean. Today, people around the world will showcase their efforts to restore the natural world, from tree planting in India to beach clean-ups in Hong Kong and community clean-ups in Kenya.
With the world beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increasing recognition that healing from the pandemic is linked to healing the planet. There has never been a more urgent need to revive damaged ecosystems than now. Therefore, resetting humanity’s relationship with nature has become the main focus in the UN decade plan.
The restoration can help protect and improve livelihoods, regulate disease, reduce risk of natural disasters ending poverty, combating climate change and preventing a mass extinction. It will only succeed if everyone plays a part. Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet - and its people.
“It’s easy to lose hope when we think of the sheer magnitude of the challenges we face and the avalanche of bad news that we wake up to every morning,” said by Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“But just as we caused the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution crisis, we can reverse the damage that we’ve done; we can be the generation to reimagine, to recreate and to restore nature to kick-start action for a better world.”
What is ecosystem restoration?
Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases.
All kinds of ecosystems can be restored, including forests, farmlands, cities, wetlands and oceans. Restoration initiatives can be launched by almost anyone, from governments and development agencies to businesses, communities and individuals. That is because the causes of degradation are many and varied, and can have an impact at different scales.
Jordan Sanchez, the pen and voice behind this year’s evocative poem for World Environment Day, sings;
Have you ever seen time fly
Watch it slip through your fingers
Like a cloud passing by
Too slow to notice it leaving
Too fast to make it stop
All we’ve know is to destroy
Like it’s breathing
The pitter-patter of raindrops
Match the sounds of clocks
Tik, Tik, Tik
How lucky we are to live
We are a fraction of a second in Earth’s lifetime
Yet, SHE is our only lifeline
Resilient, we stand on our own two feet
I’ll tell you
Reimagining the future has never tasted so sweet
Like nectar to a bee, honey to a home
No one can do this alone
The promise of restoration lives within us
We see her in the hues of youth
And she’s asking you
What will you stand for?
Now is the time for our regeneration
The poem is a powerful call, reminding listeners that we only have one Earth and we must protect her, that we must stop plundering and start protecting the planet’s resources, that we are the only generation that can make peace with nature.
According to the recent UN environment programme press release, the world must deliver on its commitment to restore at least one billion degraded hectares of land in the next decade – an area about the size of China and also make similar commitments for marine and coastal areas to face the triple threat of climate change, loss of nature and pollution.
Make peace with nature and build back better
The global rallying call from the United Nations General Assembly is to make peace with nature and build back better. However, meeting the scale, scope and pace needed to achieve effective restoration is no small task. We need to catalyse a global movement. This movement will be diverse, including local communities and activists, the private sector, finance institutions, researchers, NGOs and national governments. It will only succeed if every one of us plays a part. Businesses must take this opportunity to build a better, more sustainable, future. Investing in the ecosystem is investing in our future, bringing back plants and animals from the brink of extinction from the peaks of mountains to the depth of the sea.
The experts say, we need to slash greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half by 2030 to hold global warming below 2°C and avoid its most dangerous impacts. We can’t meet that goal without restoring ecosystems and their carbon stores. Ambitious ecosystem restoration and decarbonisation of national economies need to go hand in hand.
It won’t be quick or easy, and it will take deep changes to everything from the way we measure economic progress to how we grow food and what we eat. But the beauty of ecosystem restoration is that it can happen at any scale – and everyone has a role to play.
We all can contribute individually, from our homes, from the places we work and through our communities through conscious lifestyle changes which will help the environment. Today, especially the young consumers will not look for brands that are simply products and services. They would search for brands that are part of a bigger purpose, offering solutions for personal and world problems.
As Sanchez says in her poem, it’s important to understand that, we are a fraction of a second in earth’s lifetime. Yet she is our only lifeline.
[Colombo Closet (CC), a curated marketplace for preloved, is a humble effort of two individuals coming from two different professional backgrounds who are visionary towards creating a greener future for the next generation – a small contribution towards saving the planet.]