Land conservation is essential to protect the planet

Land conservation is extremely important for the well-being of the Earth and all species that inhabit it, including humanity.

The entire biosphere, or all life on earth, depends on the connections and functions of the world’s ecosystems. As the health of ecosystems declines, the health of communities, states, nations, and the Earth also declines. Land conservation protects these vital ecosystems that support our communities.

As development pressures such as rising carbon dioxide levels and increasing nitrogen in the soil degrade ecosystems around the world, we are pushing the Earth beyond what it can handle. Strong, diverse and healthy ecosystems are needed more than ever.

Designating land as a conservation area protects it from development and manages it well. Globally, leaving enough untouched and fully functioning wilderness enables the earth to carry out its life-sustaining processes and maintain its health, resilience and stability.

There are many benefits to conserving land, and they are all extremely important. Conservation areas provide places to discover and enjoy nature and to recreate yourself. They hold carbon on the earth’s surface.

Protected ecosystems provide resilience against natural disasters, especially floods and droughts. They also maintain and often increase biodiversity by protecting habitats and limiting habitat fragmentation. They provide fresh air and reduce air and water pollution. Healthy ecosystems improve soil quality and prevent soil erosion. They allow us to manage and maintain watersheds and wetlands.

The conserved areas protect the health and vitality of the surrounding community and provide economic benefits. Their ability to filter water naturally and their resistance to extreme weather events save money. Preserving the evolved complexity and interdependence of natural spaces not only provides all of these benefits, but creates globally healthier communities and a healthier world.

These benefits and services are urgently needed. Urban areas continue to expand and encroach on the few remaining wild spaces. Greenhouse gases that trap heat and warm the planet accumulate in the atmosphere. The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are increasing.

Species are disappearing rapidly because the rate of extinction is 100 to 1,000 times greater than the natural background rate, according to a Smithsonian article. Protecting valuable land and making more efficient use of existing land is essential to create a liveable future that does not exceed the Earth’s capabilities.

There is much room for growth and improvement in current conservation efforts and achievements. “About 60% of the land in the continental United States is natural, but we lose a football field every 30 seconds,” according to the US Department of the Interior.

One catastrophic result, among many others, is that a million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction over the next two decades. This includes a third of America’s wildlife. The US Gelogic Survey reports that the country protects only 12% of its land and about 23% of its oceans.

However, there is hope. Land conservation is happening all over the world as its importance is recognized.

The University of Florida retains 23% of campus land. Residents of Alachua County voted to use their tax dollars to purchase land to be preserved as part of the county’s Alachua County Forever program. The result is 25,150.86 acres of protected land in the county, most of which is open to the public for fun.

The US Department of the Interior reports that the Biden administration is striving to conserve 30% of the country’s land and 30% of the country’s oceans by 2030, “in order to protect our health, food supplies, biodiversity and the prosperity of each community. . Jared Green writes in The Dirt that 50 other countries also agreed to meet this goal at a One Planet summit earlier this year.

As with all issues, from local to global, we must not forget to see positive trends and developments, and when it comes to land conservation they certainly exist.

Hannah Bregman is a student of sustainability studies at the University of Florida, class of 2023.

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