All About Green

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

Jun 2022
Author: Green Power
planting vegetation in rivers to have ecosystem restoration
The government started planting vegetation in river channels as ecosystem restoration

Ecosystems denote the complex natural systems that comprise flora and fauna, as well as the non-biological elements such as climate and the environment including forests, rivers and oceans, etc. Ecosystems provide a wide array of natural “services” to humans, for instance, by supplying raw materials such as timber, and clean air and water…. Regrettably, human activities and reckless social development have pushed natural ecosystems to the verge of collapse, and we are inevitably suffering from the unwanted adverse impacts. Countries around the world are recognising the problems, and restoring ecosystems has become a top priority for many in recent years.

In June last year, on the World Environment Day, the UN Environment Programme proclaimed The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – which denotes the period of 2021 to 2030 as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. The world needs to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation in the coming decade. European countries including the United Kingdom, Finland and Germany will provide millions of euro dollars in subsidies to help developing countries carry out ecosystem restoration work. In addition, numerous large corporations have promised to participate in the effort. For example, Europe’s largest operator of energy distribution networks has agreed to create biotopes along 13,000 kilometres of their high-voltage lines in forest areas.

In this regard, Hong Kong can be said to be a pioneer in ecosystem restoration. More than a century ago, the colonial government implemented large scale planting on Hong Kong Island hills that had become barren due to constant tree felling, to prevent soil erosion and hence safeguard reservoirs. The reafforestation continues.

picking up trash along countryside trails
Joining clean up actions can help to restore ecosystem

Another effort is river restoration. In the past, channelisation of rivers was carried out for flood control purposes without consideration of natural habitats and rivers’ ecological functions. In the recent decade, the government started rejuvenating river ecosystems, such as by planting vegetation in river channels to create suitable habitats for different organisms.

Having said the above, governments and large corporations are not the only ones responsible for restoring ecosystems. The UN Environment Programme published the UN Decade’s Ecosystem Restoration Playbook, to encourage the public to protect ecosystem through “Actions”, “Choices” and “Voices”. Individuals can participate in terrestrial, coastal and even underwater cleaning up activities, and opt for products and services that are certified as sustainable. We may actively respond to public consultations on development plans by the government, and help collect environmental data through joining citizen scientist programmes. These are examples of individual efforts in ecosystem restoration. We may also show solidarity with the global efforts by echoing the UN’s plead of adding the hashtag “#GenerationRestoration” to social media posts on our activities.