From the air we breathe to the food we eat to the earth beneath us, nature surrounds us and is essential to our lives. That’s why on July 28, 2020, we’re celebrating World Nature Conservation Day, an occasion for both cherishing and raising awareness of the precious natural resources our planet possesses. To secure a future for humanity, we must work to protect and preserve the parts of our environment we so often take for granted.
Why is World Nature Conservation Day so important?
While the exact origin of World Nature Conservation Day is unknown, its message is clear: respect and conserve our natural resources because without them, we’d be pretty stuck. These natural resources include air, water, minerals, animals, trees and other plants. We depend on them for nutrition, hydration, space, shelter and, more generally, an environment in which we can thrive.
Unfortunately, our fast-paced lifestyles and demand for consumables mean nature is at risk. We’re dirtying the air we breathe with polluting gases like carbon dioxide, we’re filling waterways and oceans with harmful chemicals and plastics, we’re exploiting animals through the illegal wildlife trade and we’re cutting down precious forests to make way for agriculture, palm oil plantations and expanding infrastructure. That’s why World Nature Conservation Day – a moment to stop and think about our impacts on the planet and what we can do to mitigate them – is so important. We need to act more sustainably, pollute less, recycle more and, of course, preserve and plant forests around the globe. As the Native American saying goes: “When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money.”
Conserving Kenya’s natural resources
While this year’s World Nature Conservation Day will be celebrated a little differently as a result of lockdown measures around the world, its sentiment remains at the heart of what The Word Forest Organisation is working to achieve. We conduct most of our work in Kenya, a country rich in natural resources that are at risk. Kenya’s unique environments, such as its forests, wetlands and marine ecosystems, are being depleted and destroyed in an unsustainable way, threatening the livelihoods and long-term food security of the many people who depend on them. Effective management and protection of Kenya’s natural resources are key, especially as the country’s climate and dependence on agriculture make it particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, such as changes in rainfall patterns and drought.
Trees are a crucial natural resource; they give us oxygen, lock away climate-change-causing carbon, provide food and refuge for people and wildlife, reduce flooding, boost soil quality and even improve our mental health. That’s why we’re planting trees in Kenya: to maintain a healthy environment and help communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. To learn more about our tree-planting work in Kenya, watch our film #TreesAreTheKey or take a virtual trip to the Kenyan forests.
What can you do to help conserve our planet’s resources?
1. Plant a tree
You might not be able to plant a whole forest in your backyard, but planting a tree or two will have a beneficial impact on the environment, no matter how small. You could even volunteer your time and get involved in a local tree planting initiative.
2. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Cut down on your waste; buy items with recyclable packaging (or even better, no packaging!) and only buy the things you really need. Make sure you recycle unwanted items like clothes and household items by donating them to a charity shop or dropping them off at your local recycling centre.
3. Shop sustainably
Our natural resources will disappear if they’re not harvested in a sustainable way. Next time you buy seafood, check the label and make sure it has been sustainably fished. Try to buy clothes from sustainable fashion brands.
4. Conserve energy and water
Try to preserve as much water as you can; don’t leave taps running and don’t use water unnecessarily. You can also preserve energy by switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and making sure you turn off lights and electrical devices when you’re not using them.
5. Travel consciously
Help to reduce emissions and protect our air by travelling on foot or by bicycle as much as you can. If you’re travelling long-distance, you can also help out by swapping your car for public transport.
6. Support charities like The Word Forest Organisation
Volunteer with or donate to an initiative or organisation working to conserve our planet’s natural resources, whether that’s a clean-up operation at your local beach or a tree-planting project further afield.
7. Spread the word!
One of the best things you can do to help the planet is to carry out some research and become better informed about the importance of our world’s natural resources, the threats they face and what we can all do to help. Talk to your friends and family about nature conservation so that they can get involved in protecting our natural resources too!
Rachel Baxter & The Team
Feature picture courtesy Bjorn Christian Torrissen/Wikimedia Commons