This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ecochirp Foundation. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Our Iconic Ecosystems Are Under Threat: Here’s How To Protect Them!

More from Ecochirp Foundation

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

By Palak Kumar

Natural habitats have an important role in our lives. We depend on forest and terrestrial ecosystems for various resources like food and sustenance. The Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15): Life on Land, is about protecting, storing, and promoting the sustainable use of all ecosystems so that we can have a better future.

The world lost about 12 million hectares of forest per year from 2000–2010 due to the expansion of commercial agriculture. This deforestation has also led to a loss of biodiversity, which in turn leads to low crop productivity and value. This also results in climate change. SDG 15 aims to ensure sustainable use, restoration, and conservation of these ecosystems.

Bird's eye view of Amazon Rainforest
Bird’s eye view of Amazon Rainforest

Iconic ecosystems like the Amazon Rainforest, Spain’s Donana wetlands, and The Great Barrier Reef are of global importance. Hence they have been designated as world heritage sites.

The Amazon Rainforest:

The Amazon Rainforest is a globally important climate regulator. The Donana wetlands in southern Spain are Europe’s most important wintering site for waterfowl, hosts over half a million birds, and is home to numerous unique invertebrate and plant species.

Rising temperatures, dry spells and deforestation threaten the Amazon Rainforest and can turn the ecosystem into a drier and fire-prone woodland. Even the species living there are at risk.

Due to the nutrient run-off from the use of agricultural fertilizers and the quality of urban wastewater, water quality is degrading in the wetlands, which causes toxic algal blooms. The warm climate encourages more severe blooms and hence causes loss of native plants and animals.

Preventing deforestation and canopy damage can protect the forest from fires and maintain rainfall; thus preventing drastic ecosystem transformation.

Certain bold policy interventions and voluntary agreements have slowed deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest to about one-fourth of the previous rates.

The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef:

Ocean acidification and coral bleaching are threatening the Great Barrier Reef. Both of these are induced due to carbon dioxide emissions. Moreover, local threats like overfishing and nutrient run-off also reduce the reef’s resilience to acidification and bleaching.

Australia is a wealthy country and has the capability to improve its management of the reef. But UNESCO is concerned as Australia is not doing enough to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which can be disastrous in the long run.

The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem
The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem

Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem:

It is one of the largest and most protected ecosystems. It spans 40,000 sq. km.

Every year, 1 million wildebeest, half a million gazelle, and 2,00,000 zebras do a perilous trek from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara reserve in Kenya in search of water and grazing land.

Increasing human activity along the boundaries has had a detrimental impact on plants, animals and soils. Many of the boundary areas have had a 400% increase in human population over the past decade. Also, large wildlife species in key areas like Kenya have declined by more than 75%.

We need strategies to sustain the coexistence of local people and wildlife in the landscapes around protected areas. The current strategy of hard boundaries is a major risk for both people and wildlife.

Our future is linked to the survival of these ecosystems. Of the more than 3,00,000 known species of plants, the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) has evaluated only 12,914 species, finding that about 68% of evaluated plant species are threatened with extinction.

An estimated 18 million acres of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost worldwide each year. According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), it is estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation.

Land and forests are the foundation of sustainable development. Preserving life on land requires concerted action not only to protect terrestrial ecosystems, but to restore them and promote their sustainable use for the future.

Suggestions as to how we as normal civilians can help protect such ecosystems:

  1. Reduce our carbon footprint
  2. Plant edible gardens
  3. Avoid packaged foods
  4. Reduce wastage
  5. Cut down on using single-use plastics
  6. Volunteer for various conservation activities
  7. Reduce our paper and wood consumption
  8. Reduce oil and beef consumption

There is a lot more we can do, but even these simple things can make a huge difference.

About the author: Palak Kumar is an insatiably curious Mechanical Engineering student, passionate about flying, clouds, literature, and plants.

You must be to comment.

More from Ecochirp Foundation

Similar Posts

By Prakash Rai

By Ajay Kumar

By Rather Abid

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below