January 4, 2021

Ecological Restoration needs to become a priority states the UN

Sustainable Finance in Ireland

The recent assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency indicated that if we continue life as normal, our natural environment will degrade to a level incapable of supporting and sustaining our economies, and our lives. The EPA report highlighted the disruptive impacts of climate change are having profound impacts on our economic, social and natural systems in our world. We are experiencing continued destruction of our biodiversity, our ecosystems at a level that is simply not sustainable.

The burning question is whether we can change this situation and transform the impact we have on our ecosystems. Several measures could enable a radical transition but environmental experts suggest that we are not adopting them quick enough.

There are some signs that we are beginning to implement these necessary measures, steps that would enable us to meet the needs of the present without compromising our future. The recent investment of €108 million in the rehabilitation project at Bord na Móna is a sign of what needs to be done. Aside from scaling up to other similar projects, there is an underlying need to transform our way of thinking and our outlook on how we utilise resources.

Environmental experts believe some measures can be implemented to enable ecological restoration. Instead of viewing our relationship with the environment as either an exploitative/development model or a preservation model, there is the opportunity to both sides to meet. As we utilise the environment and its resources our population has grown and development has resulted in the damage to many of our ecosystems. As a consequence, we have lost many resources provided such as clean air, water and food. As we extended our consumption of land use, the impact of degradation continued to expand until we reached a point where preservation became a necessity. The formation of national parks and reserves was created, establishing a barrier between nature and human development. Environmentalists are suggesting that there is an alternative to creating this two-sided approach. It is possible to engage and interact with nature in a way that benefits both sides, enabling the land to be managed sustainably. Ecological restoration projects have proven to be very successful across the world, from tropical dry forests in Costa Rica to recovering native woodlands and peatlands in Ireland.

Ecological restoration success has motivated the UN to announce 2021 as the first year in the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. The challenges are profound and have been heightened by climate change, rising populations and changes in land use.

The Society for Ecological Restoration has recently created several detailed plans and standards that show how many restorative measures can be applied within various cultures and ecosystems at various scales. This incorporates plans on a local scale, to broader national projects.

Ecologists believe that ecological restoration offers a stable and positive message of hope for our future.