A science-based social system is essential to restore existing ecosystems, said Environment Expert Dr Ashraf Dewan, senior lecturer, Curtin University of Australia, on Saturday.
Dewan was speaking on "Ecosystem restoration: Bangladesh and Global affairs," an event organized by the Awami League sub-committee on Forest and Environment Affairs on the occasion of World Environment Day 2021.
Highlighting ecosystem restoration, a strategy adopted by the United Nations, Dewan who virtually joined the event, said Bangladesh has four main ecosystems – a coastal ecosystem, a freshwater ecosystem, a terrestrial forest ecosystem, and a manmade ecosystem.
To restore all the ecosystems, we have to overcome two major challenges: internal and global. Geographical location, excessive population, poverty, and resource scarcity are major internal challenges, while global warming is a universal challenge, Dewan continued.
Citing an international study, Dewan said the escalation of destructive human activity will create various challenges in the coming days, including food and water shortages in the world. If this continues, more than 1 million plants and animals will be extinct from the earth within a few years, so there is no alternative to ecosystem restoration, he added.
"The United Nations declared the current decade (2021 – 2030) as a period for ecosystem restoration, and the UN believes it is possible to produce services worth $9 trillion by 2030 by rehabilitating 350 million degraded land and aquatic environments, and it is also possible to remove 13 to 26 gigaton of greenhouse gases from the environment," Dewan added.
He said the ecosystem restoration process will increase employment opportunities and wages for people while improving services and product quality.
Commenting that the ecosystem is essential to sustaining life, Professor Emeritus, Dr Ainun Nishat of Brac University, said, "Destroying forests and wetlands to produce food, expanding cities and human settlements, building factories and other infrastructure, are the main causes of ecosystem degradation."
Nishat noted that all ecosystems need to be restored through proper planning and effective management.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister, Obaidul Quader, present at the event as chief guest, said, "To increase awareness among the people, World Environment Day is celebrated in over 143 countries around the world and Awami League has been celebrating this day from 1973."
He said human life is deeply connected to ecosystems and harming ecosystems is dangerous for humans.
Excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers in agriculture, too much use of antibiotics in cattle rearing, and overuse of water resources as well as unplanned tourism, are adversely affecting our ecosystem, Quader continued.
He said the government has taken several initiatives, including the Delta Plan and Climate Change Trust Fund to address climate change. But mass awareness is more crucial to restoring the ecosystem, he emphasised.