Ecosystems Services: a benefit to wildlife and people
Climate change is largely due to the release of greenhouse gasses from human activity, mainly carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Ecosystems can help offset changes to atmospheric chemical composition by removing pollutants from the air and storing carbon. The capture and storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide is referred to as carbon sequestration. Ecosystems performing natural carbon storage can be vulnerable to loss through events like land use change, over-harvesting, and wildfires. Policy is an important tool to ensure key carbon sinks (ecosystems storing large quantities of carbon) are managed for their protection. Not only do forests sequester and store atmospheric carbon, other ecosystems like freshwater wetlands and salt marshes, also act as carbon sinks.
By restoring degraded ecosystems and increasing local vegetation, communities can benefit from ecosystem services including lowered temperatures and improved air quality. Restoring ecosystems is an essential part of Nova Scotia’s provincial climate change plan and there are ongoing efforts to plant trees in partnership with the federal government’s 2 Billion Trees Commitment and to protect at least 20% of Nova Scotia’s total land and water mass by 2030.