Your Ecosystem Garden can be a welcome haven for wildlife, providing much needed refuge from the pressures of habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. You can create welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden and create an oasis to share your space with wildlife, helping to ensure their survival.
We’ve been talking about healing the wounds to wildlife inflicted by human action on our environment, and we’ll continue that conversation today by talking about the loss of ecosystem services.
Dave Foreman in Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century eloquently describes six “wounds” that the human population is inflicting on ecosystems which are contributing to the decline of species. I have used his list of wounds to create a series of posts about how we can work to heal each area:
- The wound of direct killing
- The wound of habitat loss
- The wound of fragmentation
- The wound of loss of ecological processes
- The wound of exotic species
- The wound of pollution and climate change
The Wound of Loss of Ecosystem Services
Ecological processes are better known as Ecosystem Services, and we are putting at risk many of these crucial services through our constant quest for yet another Walmart, Starbucks, and shopping center. Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation due to human action, as well as the introduction of exotic and invasive species are the number one reasons why our wildlife is in so much trouble.
Healthy ecosystems provide a number or services which are crucial to wildlife, and also to our own health and survival. These include:
- purification of air and water
- production of oxygen
- mitigation of droughts and floods
- generation and preservation of soils and renewal of their fertility
- detoxification and decomposition of wastes
- carbon sequestration
- pollination of crops and natural vegetation
- dispersal of seeds
- cycling and movement of nutrients
- control of the vast majority of potential agricultural pests
- maintenance of biodiversity
- protection of coastal shores from erosion by waves
- protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays
- partial stabilization of climate
- moderation of weather extremes and their impacts
- provision of aesthetic beauty and intellectual stimulation that lift the human spirit
Loss of these services is very harmful to wildlife (and also to us). Wildlife that once relied on large ecosystems are being moved into smaller and smaller areas, and soon they will have no place left to go. Healthy ecosystems provide for the survival of these species and also contribute to our own health and well being.
Healing the Wound of Loss of Ecosystem Services
If our actions can be harmful, we can also choose to make much healthier choices in our gardens, which will contribute to wildlife survival, biodiversity, and restoration of ecosystem services. We have to remember that the choices we make in our gardens impact our communities, our regions, and the health of our planet.
Here are some ideas for protecting the ecosystem services to the environment in your area:
- Reduce your lawn
- Plant a meadow
- Install a green roof
- Add a rain garden
- Plant more trees
- Protect pollinators
- Stop using toxic chemicals
- Welcome butterflies
- Invite Birds
There are so many other healthy choices we can make to help wildlife, protect biodiversity, and contribute to healthy ecosystem services. I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your wildlife garden. Please leave a comment to let us know what you are doing to help wildlife in your garden.
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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