We’re replacing the ecosystem or the ecosystem and the wild with tame. Half of the fertile land on earth is now farmland. In addition, 70% of the mass of birds on this planet are domestic birds. The vast majority of the birds are just chickens.
We also account for over one-third of the weight of mammals on earth. A further 60% are the animals we raise to eat. The rest, from mice to whales, make up just 4%.” – David Attenborough from ‘A Life on Our Planet’ 2020 –
These numbers do not just showcase the statistics of what changes humans have brought into the natural ecosystem of this wild planet. However, it also underlays an important thought. Especially on how much of biological diversity remains around us and why it is essential to allow the variety of life surrounding us to create an ecological balance for our survival.
The growing domestication of animals, and wiping of wildlife all around is leading to a noticeable void in the ecological balance of our planet. From vast deforestation and development to farmers catering to single commercial crops in lieu of profits. We are starting to see a reduction in crop production marred by the pests. And the reason behind all these ignorant practices is only one: We are forgetting how interdependent everything is for survival of our species and sustainability for modern consumers. And if we continue on this path, we will soon be the only large species left on this planet. Without our largest communities of wetlands, grasslands, and forests, and will have unforeseen impacts on the entire ecosystems.
Can we really live without wilderness? And why should we even care? The answer is both NO and YES!
No, we cannot live without wild places because it is a known fact that all different species on this planet including man are involved in a complex interdependent network called ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem regulates the climate, purifies our air, and clears the water. It also maintains healthy soil, recycles nutrients and provide us with food. And YES, we should care because simply put through it is the foundation of all the civilizations that have helped us sustain till now, and will continue to.
So What Is A Healthy Ecosystem & Its Role?
A healthy ecosystem is any geographic area where animals, plants, and other living (biotic components) and nonliving organisms ( abiotic) alongside landscape and weather interact with that area’s environment and seasons and naturally co-exists. The role of a healthy ecosystem is important in defining environmental conditions and sustainability of our lives.
While we humans might be busy with infrastructure and economic developments, we may not realize that there is also a lot going on in the smallest of the natural processes within our natural ecosystems including forests, wetlands, and in the wilderness that is single handedly responsible for our existence. And that’s why it’s very important to cultivate environmental awareness among everyone, especially students.
Some major points on the role of healthy ecosystems include the following:
- A healthy ecosystem is important for regulation of ecological processes such as energy flow, providing stability and supporting life systems.
- Breaking down the waste and recycling of the nutrient is an essential process where nutrients are exchanged between biotic components (plants, animals, living organisms such as bacterias etc) , and abiotic components (soil, water, and atmosphere).
- Helps in flourishing people with food, medicines, and renewable and non-renewable sources of energy.
- Helps in maintaining balance in trophic and climate levels as required in different geographies for the growth of natural resources.
- Provides us with raw material and fossil fuels.
Why Keeping Your Surrounding Wild is Important?
The answer is a simple one: Because we cannot survive without the wild.
Food, water, oxygen – everything we need to be alive comes from the wilderness. It’s where everything depends on different forms of life coming from the rest of the living species. Take an example of a simple household with a small garden area. If the house owner grows only roses or any single plant in their yard, soon they will notice that their plants are not surviving seasonally. They are gradually losing the foliage and blooms. Rather someone who grows different types of flowers and plants in their garden attract different species of birds, and bees to feed on nectar. Plus, worms who further feed on bacterias in the soil, and the plants.
Collectively surrounding with the wild means conserving forests and natural resources. However, on an individual level it means having more diversity in your habitat. In all, it promotes a healthy ecosystem for all living beings around us. The renowned scientists E.O. Wilson had time again emphasized on keeping half of the earth in its natural state to help us sustain a functioning ecosystem that will keep providing us.
Highlighting some important points below on why wild is important for a health ecosystem:
- Stabilizes the environment by maintaining controlled populations of insects, and other living organisms with a balanced food chain cycle.
- Provide food to humans. While we might not be eating as much from the wild as we used to because of the current industrial food chain supply there are still many people dependent on wildlife for food. Protecting wildlife strengthens food security and also improves nutrition by including different food options available locally in a given region.
- Wildlife is an integral part of humanity’s natural heritage because it provides us with everything from food to aesthetics to living opportunities. Globally over 1.6 billion people are still dependent on forests for their livelihood and ¾ of the jobs are dependent on water. As these habitats and wildlife habitats shrink, these jobs will also be lost.
- Medical systems still rely on the herbs, and chemical components derived from wild plants for medicinal purposes and new scientific research.
- Researches have shown that in areas with diversity in wildlife the cases of diseases are few, and hold great benefits to human health, economies and overall well being.
- The mental health crisis all over the world is at its worst, but do we know that nature can help. People living close to wilderness and natural environments are found to be more emotionally strong, active and healthier. Therefore, to protect our mental health and have a qualitative perspective in our lifestyle the need to keep your surroundings is essential.
Amidst the understanding related to protecting the wild, the most basic question that people often ask is, how can we even protect wildlife with an ever growing population?
What’s needed is dietary changes, subsidies reforms in farming and fishing, less wasteful and smarter regenerative practices, new recyclable agricultural technologies like hydroponic growing and farming, and vertical farming, permaculture set on renewable sources of energy that uses less soil or no soil or diversity in varieties.
In protected and rural areas around the world, indigenous peoples and local communities manage and protect the wild. It’s important to understand they are key to the growing economies in many ways. Biodiversity of our wildlife makes the earth liveable. These natural ecosystem provide solutions that help us filter our food and water, regenerate soils, and protect us from natural disasters.
Our survival is deeply connected to our natural environment. And with increasingly threatening human activities, it is time to acknowledge the benefits of wildlife and biodiversity around us. Therefore, allow your surroundings to stay wild. Because it’s in the wild where life thrives and we will survive.
Author: Nicole McCray