Habitat for Life
(Conservation Currents, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District)
Soil and Water Stewardship Week comes around just once a year, in early May, but stewardship of the environment should be observed year round.
Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to be a good steward of the land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources that enhance our quality of life. The concept of habitat, which most of us think of in terms of wildlife, should also include human and other living things around us that make up the place where we live. The basic elements of habitat are food, water, and shelter.
As living creatures with an appetite for control over our domain, humankind has a special responsibility to sustain a healthy balance of all living elements that make up our surroundings.
It is common to think about people losing their homes and the quality of their living environments as being something that happens to someone else, or in some other place. That may not always be the case. As we see sprawling growth take farmland and open space, read about a city’s drinking water being polluted by a chemical spill, or watch as flood wipes out neighborhoods and towns, we are witnessing a steady loss of the habitat for life that is needed by all people and other living things. When an animal or plant species becomes extinct, we are all a little less because of that loss. If that extinction occurs because we, as humans, were careless or thoughtless, we bear that responsibility.
So what can we, as individuals, do?
Plant a tree, make your backyard more friendly for wildlife, test your soil to make sure you put just the right amount of fertilizer on your lawn, or put in terraces to help slow runoff from heavy rains. Volunteer for neighborhood and stream cleanups, report polluters and other violators, recycle your household waste, take hazardous waste to a designated collection site, clean up after your pet, and keep yard and other debris away from storm drains.
Teach your children about the importance of conserving water, about preventing soil erosion, about the effect of pollution on aquatic life in our streams. Help them to appreciate the wonders of the natural world and how we as humans have altered the balance of the ecosystem.
Do your part to protect our habitat so all life will thrive for years to come.