Najifa Alam Torsa
Billions of years ago, our earth was just a mere orb made from the remnant of the Sun. Over time it cooled down and started becoming a green planet gradually. When the planet was growing slowly and the environment was getting cooler, the links of life cycle started to constitute. And when we say The Links, we mean the interactions between the elements of the environment. These interactions are called the Ecosystem. For millions of year human kind has been in an interaction with the nature. It’s like a negotiation happening for years between them. Different culture, various behavior of every nation or tribe have been built around these ecosystems. Sir Aurthur Tansley, the person who first used the term “Ecosystem”, defined ecosystem as “the whole system (in the sense of physics) including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex of physical factors forming what we call the environment of the biome-the habitat factors in the widest sense.”
The reflection of ecosystem has been seen on those cultures. But as the human kind started growing, they started taking over the nature. Mankind started causing the consumption of natural resources. The Amazon, The Prairies, Coral Reefs etc. are in grave danger because of the destruction in the system. These can be recovered by knowing this chain and by taking a step only. A study from 2021 says that only about 3% of the earth’s terrestrial ecosystem is intact which is really alarming. Also the growth in socio-economic aspects and technologies raising head are causing the degradation. Humans also should come forth to patronize what they have lost for their own good.
Our environment has both living and non-living components. Both components are equally contributing to the environment to keep its stability. In simple words, ecosystem is the key that has built the environment by keeping the interactions between the living and non-living organisms. The interactions are the vital factors to keep the stability of the environment. Or we can consider ecosystem as a geographic area where plants and animals and every biotic-abiotic element interact with each other and support each-others living. But as there are different types of environment on our planet, the ecosystem process differs from place to place. There is terrestrial ecosystem which includes surface organisms or the oceanic ecosystem including the aquatic lives or grasslands or desserts and so many. All of these ecosystems have different nature with different types of elements.
The ecosystem works on bringing the biotic and abiotic elements altogether by using the sun’s energy and making up food chains which is called “Web of Life”. The elements are mainly biotic which includes plants, animals and other organisms. And abiotic elements including weather, temperature, rocks etc. The energy from the sun is the powerhouse for the ecosystem to work. This energy enters into the biological system and then turns the biological energy into chemical energy. The plants use the chemical energy or molecules to feed themselves and some of the animals (specially, herbivores) rely on the plants of course. Sometimes the animals take the chemical energy as a whole.
After the energy is consumed by both plants and animals, that energy is used in their biological systems. This process is mainly like a circle and is often ended by bacteria when the plants and animals are dead by decomposing their bodies. After this decomposition the same energy is thrown off to the environment again. This cycle continues happening in previous direction over and over again. So we can see that it is a chain. A chain on which we are depended and our lives are relying.
Ecosystem is a process of balancing each other. When one part of the chain is misplaced the whole chain collapses. That means If by any chance, one element becomes dominant, the whole system will become imbalanced. For example, in forest ecosystem if one carnivore is dead, then too many herbivores will grow. As a result of too many herbivores in a forest the plants or producers will start depleting. For this reason, there will be less producers and after a while the herbivores will start starving in large number. Thus the system will break down soon and the entire arena will be affected. So, if the balancing is not happening properly, then the whole system will collapse. That is why keeping stability of the balance is crucial.
There is a saying that nature can heal by itself. Yes, this is very much true. But after destroying the whole balance of the nature mother, this saying is a bit harder to be occurred. Human activities has caused destruction to around 1.9 million square kilometers undisturbed ecosystem in the years between 2000-2013. About 58.4% of Earth’s ecosystem has been in under risk because of human activities. According to “The Living Planet Report 2020” in last 50 years around 68% of wildlife population has fallen down. All these annihilations can’t be fixed only by nature itself. Also according the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2019, about one million species of plants and animals faces extinction because of human activities.
So, what can be the solution for all these? What is the one thing that should be implemented to cover up these destructions?
The UNEP have pronounced “Ecosystem Restoration” as the theme for World Environmental Day 2021. Because only restoring of the ecosystem can restore our earth. Restoring the ecosystem means supporting the nature to heal by itself. Ecosystem restoration means recovery of the destroyed nature. Restoration can be done in many ways. Such as by planting more and more trees, reducing different types of pollution, using biodegradable materials in day to day life, reducing plastics use on daily basis, decreasing the extraction of natural resources, cutting off the toxic habit of daubing the surroundings, cleaning up the rivers and resources etc.
Even governments can recognize ecosystem rights in their own countries just like the government of Ecuador did where the rights of Nature states that mother nature where all these started has the right to exist, to flourish, to persists and to regenerate. As science and technologies are growing swiftly, the need for using the newest inventions to restore the earth are getting important. We should use science to save the earth not to destroy it. Our generation is facing both the blessings and destructive looks of sciences. So only this generation can take a leap ahead to make a difference. This is our duty to make a move so the mother nature can smile again. Restoring the chain of life can help restoring our earth. And by restoring our earth we can build a better earth for the next generation.
Author is a Student of Environmental Science and Engineering Department at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh—2224, Bangladesh