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Avenues of Action : UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Avenues of Action : UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
by Rene Wadlow
2021-06-05 08:58:12
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On 5 June 2021, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, 2021-2030 begins. An ecosystem is the interaction between people, plants, animals and their surroundings. The UN Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are the lead UN agencies for this Decade. However, the Decade aims to become a broad-based global movement in which many can play a rôle. There are many measures which need to be taken within the UN system as well as by national governments and local authorities. However, in this great effort for ecologically-wise use of land, there is a rôle for many persons as a vast range of actions are needed. Individual actions can have a wider impact by bringing together people in new alliances for action.

ecsys0001_400There is a need to look at situations locally. Official government statistics need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially concerning forest cover. Higher figures than reality allow governments to justify higher forest cutting rates. Much of Africa's « forest land » is actually a thin scattering of scrub with only a small percentage of the ground actually under tree canopy. Much of what is currently classified as forest land in the world needs reforesting which can be done only by planting. Each ecosystem must be studied at the local level and remedial action analysed both at the local level and at the level of the broader region, what is increasingly called a « bioregion ». A bioregion has been defined as a geographic area whose rough boundaries are set by nature, distinguisable from other areas by characteristics of flora, climate, land forms and human settlements

Today, many ecosystems are under stress and facing degradation. The tree and plant cover of the world have been taking increasing losses in almost all habitats of the world. Livestock grazing, lumbering, firewood gathering, roads,cities – all increase pressure. Wetlands are filled by soil carried by water. In some farmlands, there can be excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides. The ressource base of most ecosystems are declining nd a lowering of living standards are a possibility even if no major climatic upheavels or major armed conflicts worsen the state of affairs.

Yet there are signs of hope and action of which the creation of the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration is the symbol. There can be a surge of human creativity and renaissance. For a project to be sucessful, the local people must have a large hand in the planning using decentralized, non-authoritarian decision-making processes. Local people must want the project to succeed and be carried out for the long term.

There is already a good bit of research that has been done on ecosystems, and there are many non-governmental organizations working on ecosystem restoration. The framework of the UN Decade should provide for increased cooperation and highlighting areas that have been neglected in the past. The Decade provides new avenues for action.

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Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


   
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