The world-renowned ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson, once questioned the world community’s conscience in his song ‘Earth song’ “Did you ever stop to notice, This crying Earth, these weeping shores?”. This question raises doubt about human existence, whether we will be able to avoid extinction while proceeding with the same lifestyle which enormously exploits the earth. Thus, the world is constantly in dire need of a long-term strategy to prevent such a doomsday.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, are a blueprint adopted by the United Nations in 2015 in order to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. This plan includes 17 SDGs in total addressing the current burning issues and challenges faced by the global community covering a wide range of fields such as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice etc. All these SDGs are interlinked where the action in one area could affect the functioning and outcomes in others seeking to find a balance between social, economic and environmental sustainability.
As an organization striving to achieve a better society through “fellowship” and “service”, the Rotaract Club of the University of Kelaniya annually launches the Rota-tomorrow initiative executing many projects at once. The project “Green Escape” launched by Team INSPIRO was a remarkable initiative that referred to the 15th SDG covering “Life on Land” intended to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems”.
The terrestrial ecosystem can be defined as a land-based community of organisms and interactions of biotic and abiotic components in a particular area. It covers approximately 148 million km2, corresponding to 29 per cent of the earth’s total surface. The terrestrial ecosystems include diverse habitats ranging from frigid regions around the poles, the searing tropical deserts to mossy tropical rainforests. Yet, according to ongoing studies, more than 75 per cent of the earth’s land areas are substantially degraded, undermining the well-being of around 3.2 billion of the world’s population. The depletion of land due to causes such as deforestation, industrialization and land conversion to agricultural production has enormously accelerated the desertification and species extinctions. It is predicted that the continuation of these trends will result in 95 per cent of the earth’s land degradation by 2050.
“Though the depletion of the terrestrial ecosystem is a global challenge, the efforts at the individual level are crucial to solve the bigger puzzle”, stated Prof. U.P.K Epa, joining the “Green Escape” project as a mentor to raise the community’s awareness regarding terrestrial ecosystem. He is a specialist in this field, currently working at the Department of Zoology and Environmental Management of the Faculty of Science of University of Kelaniya. We were privileged to be guided by him throughout the first phase of this project. “Your home garden is the best spot to start your fight striving to conserve the terrestrial ecosystems”, he added by elaborating on the individual effort to ensure the safety of the terrestrial ecosystems.
~Written by: Rtr. Pavani Premarathna | Featured image designed by: Rtr. Hashan Koonara~