By Caroline Kibii
Understanding the ecosystem
Environmental conservation is somewhat simple, easy, and straightforward if you know what you are doing and the intended objective. It is also easy when you are well informed about the particular ecosystem you are trying to restore. On the contrary, it can be disastrous if you initiate activities without understanding the specific area.
Thus, let’s explore some of the reasons why you should be aware of as you conserve and restore an ecosystem:
Nature of the ecosystem
We have different ecosystems on the planet-savanna grassland, savanna woodlands or marine ecosystems-etc. You need to be conversant with the type of ecosystem you are trying to conserve. Be aware of the threats and opportunities for the ecosystem. Know the vulnerability of the ecosystem from natural or human activities. You will need to check what activities have been carried out in the ecosystem, how it was several years back, and the current state.
The services it offers
Ecosystems offer different services from habitats to wildlife, breeding zones, feeding areas, water catchment areas, sacred areas, buffer zones, spiritual grounds, and economic activities. It is crucial to understand this so that any restorative initiative you introduce does not compromise the service it offers but boosts.
If it is a habitat- then you need to find out what animals live within the ecosystems and establish whether your activities will affect their natural existence and reproduction or not.
If it is an area with unique plant species, research the significance of the plants to the ecosystem; will your activity promote their existence? Ask yourself why those plants are unique to the particular ecosystem.
Different weather patterns characterize every ecosystem. Thus, you have a responsibility to ascertain the weather patterns to avoid engaging in an activity that the weather experienced within the area may not support. For instance, you might not want to plant trees suitable for highland areas in an ecosystem that receives minimal rainfall. Weather is a very crucial determinant of any restorative activity.
Social and cultural activities of the communities
An undervalued aspect in restoring an ecosystem is the socio-cultural practices of a given community living within or close to the target area. The success of a conservation initiative is primarily influenced by how people behave. For instance, planting trees within a place where the people practice free-range pastoralism may not be ideal. The livestock may uproot them as they graze or may step on them. Heavy grazing inserts a lot of pressure on the soil, making it lose and prone to soil erosion. This means the trees may not survive.
Therefore, understanding the communities will give you an idea of what additional measures to consider to realize success in your project.
Nature and extent of degradation
It is vital to establish the nature and extent of degradation in a given ecosystem. Every ecosystem is uniquely influenced by social, cultural, and economic activities as well as natural occurrences. The geographic location and inclination of an ecosystem also affect the magnitude of degradation and conservation approaches. With that in mind, one can quickly develop restoration measures that are applicable to the area.
No one wants to invest time, money, and resources in an initiative that bears no fruit.
Goal of restoration
What is your fundamental objective of embarking on ecosystem restoration? Are you on a one-off or a long-term strategy? Are you working on solving a desperate situation or addressing a not so severe problem?
Do you have several options? If so, then pick the most suitable and viable option that will make a difference.
After all, your main goal is to make a positive change in the environment. But it would be best if you also worked within the limits of finances, don’t initiate a project, and leave it hanging. Start small projects that you can manage within the shortest time possible. Go for short-term projects in the beginning.
As we dive deep into this decade on ecosystem restoration, let’s selflessly work for our planet.
To the environment, to restoration!
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