Success for Nature Begins with Support for Supporting Ecological Services

Nature’s Supporting Ecological Services

This is the third part of a four-part series dedicated to the different categories of ecological services portrayed in the Infinite Wild carbon-neutral NFT collection found in WILD’s 2022 annual report (starting on page 36). This specific essay explores provisioning ecosystem services (starting on page 88) and how WILD’s programs help conserve and protect this life-giving support system.

I’m willing to bet that nearly every week you are saving the day at least once, and probably more, for someone close to you.

Maybe it’s getting your kids to school on time or giving your partner a massage after they come home from a long day of work. Or maybe you do something at work – deliver a report on time, help someone out who is struggling, or just consistently carry out your responsibilities ensuring that your team can depend on you.

Your contribution to your life is nothing short of heroic. But it doesn’t happen in isolation of a broader community. Many of us recognize and appreciate the contributions of others who help us show up at our best for those we care about most. Our parents, our teachers, our educational backgrounds, the nutrition in our bodies, the news and entertainment we consume – everything that keeps us healthy, positive, informed, and sane – nurture our strength and energy, giving us the necessary “oompf” to get through the day in a way that leaves a positive impact on others.

Those necessary forces supporting you in the background are mirrored in nature in a category of ecological service called “support.” These services set the stage for all the other essential services that make life possible. Supporting ecological services include photosynthesis and the nutrient and water cycles. They are the bedrock of our living biosphere.

Background life-support services are not always obvious, but they are absolutely critical. They also offer one of the best arguments for protecting wild nature at-scale. Sometimes, when we do not directly benefit from something, it can be difficult to comprehend why it is necessary. It can seem that maybe, if we can just protect this one important species – a pollinator or a wolf or a tiger – everything else will follow.

What, for example, is my relationship with the transfer of basic elements from wildlife to the soil? That transfer, which occurs when an animal dies or defecates, is crucial in the formation of healthy soils which capture more carbon, support more vegetation, and create a rich and healthy biome for the microscopic wildlife that live beneath our feet.

The reality is that individual species are supported by a multitude of relationships and processes that structure their habitats. The deeper one travels into the science of conservation, the more they usually recognize that protecting a single species requires protecting the entire habitat within which that species dwells.

This is why WILD believes in the power and necessity of wilderness, both as a place and as a concept that can inform and shape our relationship with nature. Wilderness is everything, including the supporting ecological services upon which all else depends.

In many ways, WILD’s mission and our core work can be described as a “supporting ecological service.” As we travel the world building communities, coalitions, and constituencies for wilderness, we are providing the background service needed for the entire conservation sector to thrive. The educational materials, policy briefings, and community platforms we create expand opportunities for everyone committed to creating a healthier and wilder world.

The World Wilderness Congress is WILD’s flagship “supporting service.” I’m not at liberty at this moment to say more, but I would not be surprised if 2023 brings an important announcement about this event responsible for strengthening the global wilderness coalition. Stay tuned!

For the next two weeks, WILD will be at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), urging world leaders to protect at least Half of Earth’s lands and seas, which is the scientific consensus on how much nature our biosphere needs. We are doing this because we recognize that nature needs space to thrive, in part because this is where supporting ecological services happen.

And while you may not be able to join us in person at the United Nations, you can absolutely help WILD protect the entirety of our biosphere.

When you donate to the WILD Foundation, you help drive some of conservation’s most ambitious (and scientifically-informed) policies, like Nature Needs Half. Change at this scale can take years, but the more you are able to contribute, the more resources WILD has to accelerate the pace of change in time to halt mass extinction and the climate emergency.

I invite you now to join us in this incredible journey as WILD continues to protect our life-giving Earth for the benefit of people and nature.

NOTE: WILD is one of the very few organizations actively working to build support for the protection of Half of Earth’s lands and seas, the amount of nature scientists conclude we need to successfully fight the twin existential crises of the climate and extinction emergencies. When you give to WILD you give voice to this urgently needed effort and fuel to both our on-the-ground conservation work and policy campaigns around the world. A gift of $250 pays for all of WILD’s conservation and campaign programs for one hour – making that hour yours! A gift of $2,000 pays for all of WILD’s programs for a full day. Although WILD’s team only wants you to give what you can afford, we would be thrilled to have you join this historic effort to restore and protect the infinite wild with a gift today. Thank you in advance for all you are doing to help keep Earth wild!


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