On June 5, World Environment Day is celebrated. Obviously, every day of the year are the "days of the environment", since it is our house and our origin, but since 1974 the United Nations established this date to emphasize the need to combine efforts between citizens, governments and companies to guarantee the conservation of the environment.
The theme of this year's celebration is the restoration of ecosystems and, from today, the decade of ecological restoration, which is also an initiative of the United Nations is inaugurated. But ... What exactly is this?
Restore an ecosystem is to repair the damage caused due to a human disturbance. Ecological restoration is a broad discipline that does not simply cover the repair of infringed damage over our ecosystems, it also advocates a slowdown and prevention of ecosystems transformation due to human activity.
Since humans we stop being "hunters and collectors" and we established sedentary societies, our impact on the natural environment has spread throughout the planet. Since then, to guarantee our sustenance, we cut forests, we destroy scrub and meadows to establish farming fields and pastures of livestock; To provide us shelter, we bore mountains to extract construction materials; To guarantee our power supply, we extract materials from the Earth and destroy vast extensions of natural land, and thus with many more actions. Our impact on Earth is so profound that we have even forced the transition to a new geological period. Luckily, in parallel to this deep transformation, we have accumulated enough knowledge to reverse it, at least in part.
This healing will require complex policies and actions, implemented in the medium and long term and aims to recover the health of our ecosystems. This process not only consists of recovering the species of plants and animals that would live it, but also involves the recovery of interactions between them, the soil, its microbiome and its functions, such as freshwater recycling or protection against to the expansion of diseases, and these functions so vital for the survival of ecosystems such as ours.
We do not stay at the superficial, the restoration of an ecosystem is a complex process, which goes far beyond planting trees. As consumers we have in our Hand the possibility of promoting a truly sustainable production, for example, demanding companies that manufacture products of natural origin that, in the same way that they inform us of the origin of their raw materials, they also share the information related to The restoration plans provided at the cessation of exploitation.
Ten years ago, consumers barely concerned about the origin of raw materials from our purchases; Nowadays, this is a habitual practice. Hopefully, at the end of this decade of restoration, consumers also have access to detailed information about the process of ecological restoration that will be carried out later.
The decade that we inaugurated in 2021 is an opportunity to slow down, slow down and reverse the destruction of natural ecosystems. It is in our Hand, as citizens and consumers, demand products and policies that are truly respectful with the conservation of ecosystems.
Teresa Gimeno, Expert in Ecology and Researcher of BC3 - Basque Center for Climate Change