Ecological Restoration Is Needed, Now More Than Ever

Our Planet is dealing with three worldwide emergencies at once:

The coronavirus pandemic, global climate disruption, and mass extinction of species.  Each of these emergencies by itself is an existential threat to the planet, humanity, and the rest of the species that call Earth home.

So far, these problems appear to be distinct, but with impacts similar in scope and scale. We do know that the global climate disruption is influencing species extinctions. However, if all three threats somehow begin to work together to exacerbate the effects of one another, in a synergistic way, the consequences are beyond comprehension. Such an outcome could push us into distraction and paralysis–just at the time when we all need to be working to help save our communities and the Earth.

Time to Stay Focused and Engaged

Now is not the time to give up. We all need to stay engaged and focused on prevention, restoration, and civic engagement.

We need to stay healthy, don’t panic, and remain focused on our work. That is to say, stay in the game so that we can continue–even ramp up–our ecological restoration work, help others, and continue to be engaged–although at a distance–in our community and civic improvement projects.

To do this we need to heed the advice of medical experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Dr. Anthony Fauci: don’t panic, wash our hands frequently, maintain a safe distance from others, avoid large gatherings, and don’t go out in public if you are ill.

Is Working Outdoors During the Pandemic Safe?

Of course it is, if you are careful and follow guidelines about social distancing, etc. Being outdoors with fresh air and breezes and with room to maintain social distancing is a great way to do good works and maybe also get some much-needed productive distraction. As the US Surgeon General said today, (Thursday 03.19.20) “Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

On a similar note, in a message today from Scott Fulton, the president and acting executive director of The Prairie Enthusiasts, he urged members to continue their engagement with restoration projects:

“During these difficult times of “social distancing” and isolation, safe ways for maintaining community contact and getting outdoors into nature are more important than ever.  Outdoor events such as burns, work parties and field trips appear to be low risk, as they are not in confined spaces and have relatively small numbers of people who can easily maintain the recommended 6-foot distance. We suggest that these events be continued wherever possible.”

If you don’t feel confident being in a group of any size right now, that’s understandable and respected. Instead, spend your outdoor time on your own working in your garden–or that of a neighbor–by increasing the number and diversity of native plants. Create a pollinator garden in a spare corner; improve overall bird habitat in your yard; pull invasive pest plants; plant more milkweed and nectar plants for the monarchs and other butterflies that will be returning soon.

We Need to Live Up to the Moment We Are In

Other restorative acts that are also important include those volunteer efforts that help strengthen civic communities. Examples include checking in on neighbors to assess their health and needs. Offer to pick up groceries or meals or prescriptions for them or do odd jobs around the house. You can think of other such acts of kindness. Simple things, but ones that will help hold us together in these tough times.

All these words are based upon the coronavirus situation as we know it on March 18, 2020. The situation is likely to change quickly and, as Dr. Fauci said, “will get much worse, before it gets better.”, thus perhaps rendering the above recommendations mute.

About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner, conservation photographer, and writer living in the Midwestern United States. Check out my photos at
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1 Response to Ecological Restoration Is Needed, Now More Than Ever

  1. Pingback: Connecting with the Natural World in a Time of Pandemic – Ecological Relationships

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