It’s a day meant to mobilize individuals, businesses, and governments to take more tangible environmental actions and foster a sustainable future. On the 51st anniversary of this special event, organizers have chosen the theme #RestoreOurEarth, which is meant to bring focus towards more innovative thinking for efforts to restore the world’s ecosystems.
Here on Canada’s Pacific coast, we see the negative impacts of changing ecosystems every day. Warming water temperatures due to climate change cause increasingly inhospitable spawning rivers for returning wild salmon. Unpredictable weather events are changing habitats and disrupting the seasonal movements of B.C.’s migratory species, including birds like surf scoters. Human-caused incidents like the 2016 sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat, which spilled over a hundred thousand litres of fuel in the waters near Bella Bella (a critical site for seafood gathering, fishing, hunting, and for practicing and teaching traditional culture for Heiltsuk people) continue to impact sensitive habitats.
In a challenging year when humankind has dealt with the ever-evolving and life-threatening COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how reduced output from industries and decreased travel as people shelter in place has affected the planet. Last year, NASA published data revealing reduced levels of nitrogen dioxide and other carbon emissions worldwide, a big positive for the environment! Further, reduced shipping activity worldwide has created quiet underwater refuges for marine species, including noise-sensitive humpback, fin and orca whales that call the Great Bear Rainforest waters home.
As COVID-19 vaccinations roll out worldwide, we can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. From a global to local scale, the natural world has benefitted in many ways from decreased human activity throughout the pandemic. Keeping this at the forefront of our minds as we shift out of lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders is essential to ensuring we don’t slide back into a world where business as usual comes at a high environmental cost. Staying local is an opportunity to appreciate the natural world right in your own community. We don’t have to fly across the country to appreciate the wonders of the planet. In fact, by not flying, we are doing something essential in restoring our environment. If anything, COVID-19 has shown us that everyone can make better consumer and lifestyle choices in their day-to-day lives. Now let’s ensure that we recover better, together.
At Pacific Wild, every day is Earth Day. Our team works tirelessly to conserve and protect wildlife and their habitat in the Great Bear Rainforest and beyond. We have a number of active campaigns including fighting for the conservation of Pacific herring, ending unethical and ineffective predator management policies for British Columbia’s wild wolves, advocating for high standards of marine protected areas, and pushing our government for better monitoring and protection of our wild salmon.