The World Wildlife Day 2021, established by UNO in 2013, was celebrated on March 3rd last and this year it was focused on the subject: "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet".
“In 50 years globally – the WWF writes – a territory as big as 20 times the size of France has been completely degraded (OECD 2019); in Europe, 81% of the habitats, protected by the homonymous Directive, is in an inappropriate conservation status (EEA 2020). And unfortunately – as WHO warns – continuing to damage biodiversity may have negative consequences on our health, even more important of what we’re already living. However it is still possible, at least in part, to push the button “Rewind” and rebuild what we have lost”.
According to WWF the solution lies in reforestation: “A widespread action of renaturation (reconstruction and regeneration of the natural systems that we destroyed) and the sustainable management of ecosystems - it writes – represent not only the right direction towards a post- COVID world, but they are also important instruments in fighting the climate crisis, able to guarantee substantial economic benefits and to create new skills”.
Space, therefore, for nature-based solutions: “The essential services guaranteed by ecosystems as forests, prairies and wetland, play a central role in the mitigation of global warming – WWF writes in an official statement for the launch of the new report-. Recent researches shows in fact how the so called nature based solutions – such as the restoration of natural forests, peatland, mangroves and the recovery of aquatic and marine ecosystems – would contribute to over one third of the necessary efforts for the mitigation of the climate change by 2030 and would reduce the total CO2 emissions of over 10 billions tonnes a year, equivalent to the current combined emissions of US and EU”.
The environmental organization also provides other information. “To invest in renaturation also means creating not indifferent economic and social benefits. According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), every year the natural systems of the Planet provide benefits to mankind (ecosystem services) evaluable between 125 and 140 trillion dollars, one and a half times the global gross domestic product. By rinaturing at least 350 million hectares of forest by 2030, a net economic benefit of about 170 billion dollars a year (approx 140 billion euros) could be generated, having regard to the protection of water basins, the increase in agricultural productivity, as well as the benefits in terms of climate change mitigation thanks to the requisition of more than 5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year.
The WWF ReNature Italy campaign, among the numerous actions, includes interventions of renaturation in its 100 Oasis and in particular in a wide stretch of the Po river. To restore the ecosystem services guaranteed by this important basin, as the regulation of the hydrological cycle, water purification and wastewater treatment, the erosion control, the formation of ecological corridors, the supply of materials like sand, gravel and clay would produce an economic value within a range from 218 up to 402 million euros, not to mention benefits for tourist and leisure activities, the value of biodiversity and the role of ecological corridor of the Po river.