Caring for the planet: World Conservation Day 2020

World Conservation Day is observed annually on July 28. Given the pandemic has been keeping us home, nature has gotten a break from the tourism and littering that humans bring. However, as the country reopens and more of us go out into the world, it’s important to remember to take care of our planet.

World Conservation Day is meant to bring awareness to the Earth’s limited natural resources, like water, air, soil and trees — all of which we use daily. It’s a day to increase awareness for the importance of protecting these properties, not just for the wellbeing of the planet, but also for the sake of humanity.

“Nature conservation is exactly that; it’s about preserving the natural world that we have all around us. Here in South Florida, that’s the Everglades and surrounding wetlands, pineland scrubs, the Florida Keys, coral reefs and seagrass beds lining the coasts and any habitats in between. It is the upkeep of city parks, beaches and public areas [and] where small niches may open up for animals and plants predominantly to thrive in. It’s really about preventing the destruction of habitats that are already beginning to dwindle all around the planet in order to prevent potential mass extinction,” said Nathan Andrews, treasurer of the NSU Nature Club, SLCE Chair and Archivist Chair for Alpha Phi Omega and Alpha Class Community Service Chair for Epsilon Eta.

To conserve the nature around us, there are a wide variety of different things we can do. From turning off the faucet when brushing our teeth to picking up litter, regardless of what day it is, there is one small action we can each take to take care of our planet. Since the 1970s, NSU has made conservation efforts, and as Sharks within the NSU community, we can aid in making a difference.

“As a whole, recycling can be greatly increased throughout the [NSU] community. We tend to throw things away not knowing that they can be recycled or because it is simply easier to do, but more emphasis needs to be placed on this. Reducing energy usage campus-wide has the potential to be highly-impactful on reducing the carbon footprint of the campus itself. In general, try to disturb the natural world around you as little as possible, as even the smallest things can place a great amount of stress on organisms,” said Andrews.

In South Florida, the biggest nature conservation issue we are facing is urban development. If we continue clearing away lands and habitats for new city developments, we will cause a major problem for the animals in these areas as well as to the lands themselves. Not only are our inlands being affected, but also our reefs and even lakes.

“Ports are being expanded, and as a result, coral reefs and seagrasses are undergoing increased stresses. Lake Okeechobee is currently facing extreme problems with fertilizer entry into waterways, resulting in algal blooms that remove much of the oxygen from the water. We

have to find ways to keep habitats intact and meet our needs as well. This is simply not being done to the extent it needs to be,” said Andrews.

One small step to help conserve nature is to reduce your carbon footprint. This can be done by reducing the amounts you use, reusing what you can and recycling whenever possible. Turning off the lights and TV when you leave a room or are not home, walking or biking instead of taking your car and not letting food go to waste are just some of the ways you can make a big difference by doing something small.

“It’s small things that you may not think have any impact, but over time, [they] greatly reduce your footprint,” said Andrews.

Luckily, through NSU, there are also a few other ways you can help. With the NSU Nature Club, you can attend beach clean-ups in Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale and across from the Oceanographic Campus. If you want to help around campus, the club also does upkeep work in the Medicinal Garden on campus regularly. Also, there are organizations like 4Ocean, the Everglades Foundation and Fight for Zero that provide tips on their websites on how you can help make a difference and get involved.

“The SLCE Office on campus posts cleanups on SharkHub as well that you can sign up for. You can also go to Hands On Broward’s website and find cleanups and invasive species removals as well… Green Sharks Sustainability Club, along with Epsilon Eta Sigma Chapter, also aid in nature preservation; [both push] for clean energy use, carbon footprint reduction and sustainability in general to protect the environment. Being in all three, I highly recommend joining at least one of the organizations and coming out to learn more about what you can do to make your impact on conserving the natural world,” said Andrews.

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