April 20, 2020|By The Conservation Fund

Three Ways the Earth Supports Us Through Crises

April 22 warrants celebration! Over the past 50 years, Earth Day has consistently and successfully called people to action to help protect our beautiful and resourceful planet. However, this year is much different from the preceding 49, as people around the world fight to protect human health and maintain the durability of economies. Now more than ever we should reflect on just how important our Earth is, not only for the health and wellbeing of mankind, but for our resiliency and ability to endure challenges.

Here are three ways our Earth is supporting us through this crisis.

1. Nature is Good for Your Health and Wellbeing

EarthDay2020 Value Chain Lake Umbagog NH c Joe Klementovich 1 NH201808236 Photo by Joe Klementovich.

We’ve all heard that the outdoors and fresh air are good for you, but there’s actually scientific evidence to prove it. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to physical health; from additional Vitamin D from the sun’s rays, to reducing blood pressure and muscle tension. Studies even show that justviewing scenes of nature can reduce anger, fear, and stress.The outdoors has always been an important escape for people dealing with anxiety, and a steady source of pleasure for people across the country. Over 327 million people visited our national parks in 2019, the third highest year of recreational visitation in history. With current overcrowding of recreation spots, many park shutdowns, and social distancing requirements, open land expansion has never been more prevalent. Popular destinations have either been closed, crowded, or in many cases, overwhelmed and damaged, and the trend is consistent across the country—even in rural communities. 

What can you do? 
- Support the expansion and maintenance of public lands! It’s an essential step in making sure there’s enough Earth for everyone to enjoy and benefit from.

2. Nature Creates Sustainable Jobs

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Photo by Ivan LaBianca.

The Earth’s resources and working lands are the backbone of America’s economy. From wood products to recreational tourism, millions of people find employment opportunities directly linked to natural spaces. For example, working forests in the United States supply Americans with pulp and paper products (Yes! Toilet paper included) and many other products essential to our everyday lives. They also employ over 8 million Americans with jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas and will always be in high demand.

Many of the country’s privately-owned small businesses rely on natural resources and outdoor recreation to thrive—such as Appalachia’s gateway communities. These businesses provide vital community services and products in rural and isolated communities—ecotourism, local food, value-added agriculture, consumer products and much more. In current circumstances and economic uncertainty, small businesses remain an important asset for people and our economy. Many resources are currently available for small businesses challenged by the COVID-19 crisis, including rapid recovery small grants and loans.

What can you do? 
- Recognize the incredible value of the paper products you consume and try to make sure they are sourced responsibly from forests certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council
- Support your local businesses as much as possible. If you normally eat out on Fridays and Saturdays, consider getting take-out or delivery on those nights. If you are able, you can also purchase gift cards from your favorite businesses for use after the crisis.

3. Nature Supplies Farms and Food

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Photo by Ezra Gregg.

People must eat. And since people must eat, farmers must farm. Food is one of the most important resources the Earth provides for us, and farmers have one of the most essential, on-the-ground jobs, making sure food gets from the Earth to our plates. Of course, there are lots of other processes involved—and jobs that go with them—but working farmlands are the base of the pyramid, and often feel pressure from population growth and complicated supply chains, even in times of normalcy.

Over the past several years, the agricultural industry has seen two positive trends: an increase in farmers under the age of 35 and a 9% growth in demand for local produce in urban areas. Development pressure on quality farmland outside our cities is at an all-time high, and land is becoming increasingly expensive and out of reach for next-generation farmers. But solutions are in place to bridge this gap. For example, in Atlanta, we’re helping match next generation farmers with farmland to help feed growing populations now and into the future.

What can you do? 
- Think about where your food is coming from when you buy it…the farms and farmers! If we don’t have them, we do not have food.
- Support your local food scene as much as you can.

Can you think of other ways the Earth is supporting you during this time? We’d love to hear from you. Please consider giving a gift this Earth Day, so we can continue to protect our most important and resilient resource.