World Environment day 2020-‘Time for Nature’
“Time for Nature,” is this year’s World Environment Day theme a reminder that it is time to act to salvage the degraded environments, preserve and protect wildlife, and appreciate nature.
In a normal situation, world environment day could be celebrated out in parks, sanctuaries, farms, forests, and gardens, among others doing different activities that enrich the planet. This year is unique and a wakeup call to realize the significance of green spaces in cities and towns.
Covid-19 and urban greenspaces
Covid-19 came at a time when the world least expected. It halted every activity and plans; reduced events to virtual.
The curfews, cessation of movement, lockdowns, and restriction to access to certain areas left most urban dwellers, especially in Nairobi, to find solace, strength, and revitalize in the few available parks, gardens and forests.
For a while, Karura forest, Arboretum, Ngong forests, and the Nairobi National parks became the main focus, often crowded, forcing the enactment of stricter measures.
At a glance, the overall condition was not appealing because of the possibility of spreading the virus and exerting a lot of pressure on those resources; however, it was an indication of how important green spaces are during these times.
If these spaces were not there, where could Nairobians spend their leisure time and kill boredom as they practice social distancing and pull through the cessation?
It shouldn’t take another epidemic or pandemic like Covid-19 for us to realize how essential nature is in our day-to-day lives.
Adequate protection and preservation of the green spaces is essential; thus, developing laws and policies that cushion them from degradation: human encroachment and plastic pollution is fundamental.
On a positive note, the ban on plastic papers in the country reduced the amount of plastic pollution in our green spaces.
On the contrary, single-use plastics are still a nightmare; straws, water, and soft-drink bottles are still at large. With the ban scheduled official execution to take effect this June 2020, there is hope that our green spaces will breathe again.
Besides, national laws may not be enough; each park, forest, or garden needs to develop its policies in line with the contents it hosts and services it offers.
Karura forest, for instance, has ensured no single-use plastic water bottle is allowed inside the park. By placing a lot of emphasis on the policy, you will hardly see any plastic bottle thrown carelessly. Such laws are missing in parks like Oloolua and Arboretum that attract quite a large number of people picnicking, walking, or jogging hence the reason for plastic bottles thrown along the trails.
While there are litter bins and warning signs cautioning people from littering, it does not stop them from the ill act. This is the reason single-use plastics should be disallowed inside the parks.
Time for Nature- Act
Action for nature means taking all measures humanly possible to ensure the green spaces remain intact to serve the present and future generations equally. Penalizing those breaching this law might serve as a good lesson.
While the laws and policies play a crucial role, personal resolve is also necessary. Without the willing power, then the rules will be less impactful.
Knowing that the green spaces serve the social, psychological, and physical needs of humans, preserving and protecting them should be within everybody’s mandate.
It should not take another epidemic or pandemic like Covid-19 for us to realize how essential nature is in our day-to-day lives.
Therefore, during this time for nature, act for the environment, act for climate, act for the planet.
Happy World Environment Day 2020!
This article was published on the star newspaper Why we need to preserve urban greenspaces