INSPIRATION – Hear, hear! The earth challenges us...

November 19, 2022

This article is taken from the Mauritian newspaper ( )

In 2013, following the request of the FAO, the United Nations proclaimed December 5 as International Soil Day. Friends of the Earth are increasingly mobilizing to raise people's awareness of the development of soils for their sustainable management. Conferences, exhibitions, meetings and events are multiplying, sounding the alarm on soil degradation and the essential role of its resources for human well-being. Among the activities and mobilizations of 2022, we will remember the impact of the “Save the soil” Movement (1). Encouraged by several world leaders, he succeeded in mobilizing people of all ages around the world in favor of soil revitalization. On the program, introduction to biodiversity and the multifunctionality of soils. Perceiving the interdependence between man and nature, understanding the importance of soil organic matter and understanding the importance of trees and agriculture are essential today for the education of the future generation in order to a healthy planet.

The health of the earth, an age-old cry

Hear, hear! This cry has been rising from the bowels of the Earth for a year? A decade ? It's been almost a century! It is interesting to mention in this regard the research of Aldo Léopold, an American academic from the beginning of the 20th century, a great defender of wild nature, who died in 1948. In 2014, his ecological essays translated by Anne-Sylvie Homassel were published in a collection entitled Pour la santé de la terre published by Corti. These writings dating from 1920-1930, show the researcher and the man in the field, ready to transmit an ecological thought through education. Indeed, through his university functions, he became the president of a department of wildlife management (Wildlife Management) that he created for science students. His articles present with precision and clarity the themes that are still topical such as the deforestation of the countryside, the erosion of poor land, the destruction of marshes and wild species, threatened and endangered animals. Based on a variety of examples, A. Léopold describes the vitality of the earth with its ecological balances and its food chains, very easy to reproduce in educational diagrams for the current generation. The researcher presents the biotic pyramid whose first base is the soil, emphasizing the importance of each link in the chain. Forester passionate about ornithology, he gives pride of place to poultry fauna. Birds, like all living beings, play a vital role in the preservation of nature. With other ecologists, A. Léopold will for example campaign against the hunting of game birds and the agricultural pesticides sprayed over the prairies to preserve endangered species in North America, such as the prairie grouse. It reminds us of the essential role of certain grasses perceived as plant nuisances. He denounces the plundering of forests and the disappearance of vital underground microflora for the enrichment of the earth. It's not too late to act! Why don't we take a look at the poultry fauna.

Hear, hear! Let's learn from the past...

Dodo? Alas! He couldn't be saved. We are aware of this loss. In the Mascarenes, we now protect the kestrel, the pigeon of the ponds, the green kato, the cardinal of Mauritius, the warbler of Rodrigues, the petrel of Reunion. And elsewhere, whether they are foresters, mariners, arboreal or cave dwellers, garden passerines, migrants or singers, raptors or domestics, more or less talkative, they maintain a balance within their ecosystems. They all deserve our attention, whether it is the flamingo of Lake Nakuru in Kenya, the vast seabird, the albatross dear to Charles Baudelaire, the barn swallow or the lesser skylark, currently in danger and elected the Bird of the Year by Wildlife!

Let's continue our journey with A. Léopold in the woods of Wisconsin that he cites in his research. Let's discover with him, the bird with the very poetic name of ruffed grouse whose elegant and precious step we could unfortunately no longer follow because of its disappearance from a dozen counties. By describing the spring nuptial dance of the male woodcock, giving soft trills at dusk, A. Léopold discourages all game bird hunters! It also invites us to watch the black-capped chickadee, the discreet nuthatch, the dark-eyed junco, the blue jay and the Hudson's sparrow having their breakfast in the sun… in winter. Yes, in winter, when food is scarce. On the menu, they are offered sunflower seeds and other grasses as well as split acorns and nuts. The mountain ash is home to a bohemian waxwing and the negundo maple, an evening grosbeak… Will we be able to save the beautiful orange warbler or shorebirds such as the red knot, currently in danger? A keen observer of interactions in nature, the environmental activist recommends the conservation of wooded and wild spaces such as meadows, hedgerows and forests as well as ponds near farms to promote the protection of poultry fauna. He draws our attention to the extermination of bluebirds and the disappearance of swallows due to the transformation of nesting areas with the felling of trees and overgrazing. Furthermore, it underlines the interest of healthy peatlands which are particularly favorable to the interaction between flora and fauna. These environments, true reservoirs of life, are home to a large number of animal and plant species that are now classified as vulnerable or threatened. In addition, you should know that the production of peat improves the quality of the soil by enriching it.

And live in harmony with the earth!

Everything is connected as shown by the ecological pyramid. We learn that the poultry fauna interacts with plants and insects. To simplify, we could say that birds pollinate plants which in turn feed humans. These plants come from the soil where detritivorous insects live. All this seems to echo the quote from A. Leopold who said that "the soil and the cycle of plants are now considered as the basic variables which determine the existence of flora and fauna, both domestic and wild, as well as the quality and quantity of the benefits that human being can get out of it”.

Why not take this reflection on the fly and draw inspiration from it? And learn to observe and respect the vitality of the earth to preserve this beautiful heritage that has been bequeathed to us...

And not only on December 5.