As the world we know grinds to a halt, our natural habitat appears to be breathing a sigh of relief.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event that is celebrated throughout the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
The theme in 2020 is Climate Action. It is thought that climate change may be the biggest challenge facing the precious support systems we need to survive and the future of humanity itself.
Ironically, whilst it is early days, it seems like the spread of COVID-19 has had a positive impact on the environment, albeit temporary perhaps.
Social distancing and the fact that many of us are working from home nowadays is resulting in a massive drop in the number of cars on the road, air travel is almost non-existent, and many manufacturing businesses are now closed.
It has been reported that air pollution levels as observed by satellite are showing significant reductions in regions that have been undergoing restrictive quarantines at the time.
Whilst these improvements to the environment may be short lived, our world recovers quickly as evident soon after recent bushfires ravaged our country.
Fresh green shoots as plants and trees re-sprout could be seen just a few short weeks after the fires. Beetles and other insects returned, followed by the birds that feed on them.
Whilst many trees were lost, many survived and rejuvenated rather quickly when the ‘bud bank’ that lies behind thick layers of bark sprouted.
Did you know that ender normal conditions these buds are supressed from shoot hormones from further up the tree? But, when the canopy disappears due to drought, fire or insect attack, the buds quickly come to life and new leaves start to form.
Only time will tell whether these areas will return to their former state. The newly open forest leaves many native mammals exposed, changing the food web, or feeding relationships, in an ecosystem.
This means we may see a change in the types of birds, reptiles and mammals found in forests after the fires. And if these areas don't eventually return to their pre-fire state, these environments may be changed forever – and extinctions will be imminent.
Whilst Earth Day should be every day, the fires and more recently the impact of a nasty virus make us think a little more about how we can preserve our earth.
Maybe we are enjoying a taste of the air we might breath in a low-carbon future and perhaps we will change the way we do things moving forward.
One thing is certain though, our earth cannot continue to offer its harvest for us if we don't take good care of it.
Learn more about Earth Day here.