Never Gonna Let You Down
Nature’s Provisioning Ecological Services
This is the second 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 62) and how WILD’s programs help conserve and protect this life-giving support system.
Of all your relationships, I’m guessing that your relationship with nature is the most dependable by far. Every moment of your life, you have been supported by nature which has filled your lungs with oxygen, your belly with nourishment, and your heart with wonder.
If only we could show up as dependably for nature!
Any direct benefit we derive from nature falls into the category of provisioning ecological services (for a list of provisioning ecological services and to view WILD’s carbon-neutral NFTs, click here). Many of us in the developed world believe we can take nature for granted because so much of what we consume arrives to us through vast supply chains that visibly remove nature from the equation.
But the same cannot be said for developing countries, especially for the people in the Gourma region of Mali, home to the Mali Elephant Project, 300 migrating elephants, and 400,000 people living directly off the land.
In Mali, people and elephants live in symbiosis, meaning that when the elephant population is abundant and healthy, people thrive. That is why many in the Gourma became concerned as the elephant population declined due to a multitude of factors; overgrazing, the climate emergency, and poaching.
The decline in elephants saw a coinciding erosion of the region’s ecology. Acacia forests dwindled, the benefits of foraging beneath the trees grew sparse, and the overgrazing of cattle resulted in lower quality topsoil.
Economically disadvantaged places like the Gourma depend more on healthy biodiversity than industrial infrastructure to support human communities. In fact, the United Nations’ estimates that 1.6 billion people depend directly on wild nature for their livelihoods, be that subsistence fishing, farming, or foraging.
When biodiversity suffers, nature’s provisioning life-support services also fade, harming human population’s in the process.
In Mali’s case, the region was on the brink of collapse. Fortunately, through the intervention of the Mali Elephant Project and its partners, WILD and the International Conservation Fund of Canada, which empowered local people to protect the land and manage the habitat upon which people and elephants depend, biodiversity is beginning to recover. But much work remains to be done, including supporting the 1,300 local eco-guards (86 of whom are young women!) who help manage and protect the land, even in the face of violent threats from ISIS terrorists, illegal gold miners, and would-be poachers.
You can help protect these important life-giving services that support people everywhere, but especially in rural and undeveloped areas, by donating to WILD.
When you donate to the WILD Foundation, you help create lasting and regenerative outcomes by empowering programs built on community-led approaches, like the Mali Elephant Program. Our work in Mali is just one of our many programs that enhance and protect provisioning ecological services through grassroots, decentralized efforts that are at the heart of true sustainability. When communities are empowered to take action, supporting changes in behavior that benefit biodiversity, everyone wins!
I invite you now to join us in this incredible journey for 2023 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!