It’s world environment day on June 5th, and to mark it, the United Nations Environment Programme is launching a decade of action on ecosystem restoration.

Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet – and its people. There has never been a more urgent need to restore damaged ecosystems than now, as we face the global climate and nature emergencies.

Some of the work that’s needed to restore ecosystems can only be delivered by national and local governments. These are the big policy changes like restricting pesticide and nitrogen use in agriculture, protecting marine areas and creating spaces for nature in cities through planning laws.

In May, our government announced a series of measures to restore ecosystems in the UK, including a ban on sales of peat compost by 2024. Peatland ecosystems are three times as effective at sucking up carbon than forests. But once drained and extracted, a peat bog actually emits greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

The government has also committed to tripling tree planting in England to 7,000 hectares a year by 2024, and is setting a new 2030 target for wildlife populations. A species reintroduction taskforce will take forward work on recovering species lost to England, such as wildcats and beavers.

Initiatives like these go a long way to making the UN’s decade of ecosystem restoration a success. But it’s not only up to governments. We can all do things to support our local ecosystems.

Individually, we can rewild our gardens and change our diets to support nature-friendly farming. Collectively, we can plant trees, clean up our rivers and coasts, make spaces for nature in our towns and cities, and manage local woodland for biodiversity.

It’s only with healthy ecosystems that we will be able to enhance people’s livelihoods, combat climate change and halt the dangerous collapse of biodiversity.

if you’d like to support our local ecosystems, why not take part in a Keynsham-wide litter pick on June 6th, as part of the Great British Spring Clean. More info on the Keynsham Wombles’ Facebook page. 

This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – June 2021

Photo by Zoe Schaeffer here on Unsplash