By United Nations
Ecosystem loss is depriving the world of carbon sinks, like forests and peatlands, at a time humanity can least afford it. The emergence of COVID-19 has also shown just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be. By shrinking the area of natural habitat for animals, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses – to spread.
Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.
This year, World Environment Day is focused on ecosystem restoration and its theme is “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.”
This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.
Ecosystem restoration is a global undertaking at massive scale. It means repairing billions of hectares of land – an area greater than China or the USA – so that people have access to food, clean water and jobs.
Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown for three consecutive years and the planet is on pace for potentially catastrophic climate change.
Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and over the last century we have destroyed half of our wetlands.
As much as 50 percent of our coral reefs have already been lost and up to 90 percent of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C.
Over 4.7 million hectares of forests – an area larger than Denmark – are lost every year.
Nearly 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is discharged to our oceans and rivers without treatment.
Wetlands are being drained for agriculture, with some 87 percent lost globally in the last 300 years.
Present in more than 180 countries, peatlands are vital, super-powered ecosystems. Though they cover only 3 per cent of the world’s land, they store nearly 30 per cent of its soil carbon.