We have pushed the ecology to a stage where we are being forced to undo some of the deep damages that we have inflicted. Progress till now had been measured by the speed at which we had destroyed the conditions that sustain life. Human use has reached that certain stage when the planet no longer accepts our presence with silence and has fought back. We have pushed the delicate ecology to its limit and have come to face the fact that if the forests perish, so do the fauna. And restoration ecology is the only way we can repair some of the damage.
We have accepted ourselves from the rules of completion and ended up obliterating the community to support its expansion. Through restoration ecology, we hope to initiate, recreate, and accelerate the recovery of a wounded ecology. Wounded through man-made environmental changes that have altered the ecosystem function and structure. Common forms of human disturbances have been through damming rivers, clearing the forests, intense grazing, and also natural disasters like floods, forest fires, and hurricanes which man has aggravated by upsetting the delicate ecological balance.
Scientists have studied in detail how through the use of traditional methods and modern science, man can still help in the recovery of an ecosystem from the ravages of relentless climate change through environmentally sustainable practices.
The United Nations has been forced into declaring the next decade as one aimed at Ecosystem Restoration. The aim is to restore the ravaged and degraded ecosystem. In the process, it has been recognized that there resides a deep inter-related link between society and the ecosystem. The ultimate aim also includes strengthening the water and food supply and biodiversity replenishment.
Each day increases the urgent need to understand environmental change and devise ways to battle it.
How Important Is The Need For Restoration Ecology?
The specter of extreme climates around the planet and their increasing frequency and intensity has intensified the need to understand restoration ecology. It primarily involves caring for our environment that will ultimately reduce if not reverse the adverse impact climate change has affected on the planet. Science also is about the need to find ecosystems that were damaged, directly or indirectly through human action.
The twin impact of the rapid destruction of the forest cover, and the uncontrolled usage of biofuel, has brought home the effects of climate change, whether in the wildfires in the western parts of North American, the floods in Germany, and China, or the devastating drought in Madagascar.
Countries continue to be negligent in implementing environmentally favorable policies, as they would mean harming their short-term economic interests. The US, China, and Brazil continue to be the worst offenders, and their plunder goes beyond their shores, especially in the case of the first two countries.
The Workings Of Restoration Ecology
Through restoration ecology, experts study an ecology right from the inception to the state it is in today. They first go into what the environment originally was, the causes that have disturbed or impacted it. While there are natural factors inherent in every change, man has sought to accelerate the negative aspects of it. The natural environmental changes happen in varying degrees, but the one caused by man, anthropogenic, has been the most rapid.
Restoration ecology seeks to differentiate between the changes wrought by natural causes and human impact. It thus seeks to mitigate these effects and reverse the whole process.
The field of restoration ecology is also an understanding of how various ecosystems, including their offshoots, involve and affect the total system. The ecosystem has become fragmented as a consequence of human intervention and such fragments could become extinct. The field has moved on from one of awareness and education to one that produces tangible results to mitigate the ill effects of human interference.
The efforts have come in through governmental, corporate, societal, and individual efforts on multiple fronts. The urgency now is much more than a couple of decades ago, even as more individuals and organizations take on projects aimed at the restoration of the ecology and help the planet ease the effects of climate change.
Action is needed at various levels, and it is a continuous effort that is coordinated by international agencies. The problem is one without borders and none can afford to work in isolation and hope to succeed.
Individual actions involve actions that seem small but add up to a significant whole. Even small efforts like conserving energy, less use of disposable materials, and other small incremental measures in our life goes a long way when billions adhere to it.
At the government level, it involves cooperation with those at the forefront of the fight to save the environment. Laws that give teeth to environmental efforts and outlawing measures that have altered our environment will help in making rapid strides on several fronts.
And then there needs to be an international consensus where every country consciously agrees to certain measures to immediately bring about changes.
Measures such as mass tree planting are visible measures of restoration ecology, undertaken at various levels, even involving governments to cover vast areas. Corporate measures to restore the ecology have been successful to a certain extent.
The need for restoration ecology is not limited to ensuring cleaner air and water. Rapid environmental changes have led to an existentialist crisis. The Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will be crucial to understand the way forward for the restoration of our ecology, implementing measures for change on all fronts, and ensuring that the impact of weather changes are controlled and ultimately reversed.