Biodiversity Day 2021 – We are part of the solution #ForNature
International Day For Biological Diversity
On the 22nd May the UN celebrates International Day For Biological Diversity, or Biodiversity Day. This is a day to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity to all life on our planet, including our own. With biodiversity declining at a rate never seen before in human history, its important to understand why it matters and what the consequence of biodiversity loss looks like. As many of us are parents, we want to know how this will affect our children’s futures, and what we as individuals can do to help.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is all the life on our planet, from the largest mammals, insects, fish, plants, fungi, microorganisms and humans. Biodiversity isn’t just the importance of the number of species, but also the variation within a species. This genetic diversity has enormous importance to our future, and our potential to survive as a species. Biodiversity also covers the patchwork of ecosystems needed to support the greatest number of species, including oceans, rivers, rainforests, grasslands, peat bogs and temperate forests to name just a few.
Why is biodiversity so important?
A biodiverse planet isn’t just beautiful – it is vital for our very being. Life on Earth is a highly complex web of interactions. When the balance is shifted it has knock on effect on the entire web of life. Humans have evolved in and with the natural world, we are a part of it, but we need to rekindle that love, respect and understanding.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the effects of biodiversity loss, and how humans can upset the delicate balance. The UN has recognised that biodiversity loss exasperates disease transmitted from animals-humans (zoonosis), however intact biodiversity offers us the tools to fight disease.
Biodiversity and ecosystem services
A healthy, intact ecosystem with high biodiversity supports us directly in many ways. Even with the development of new technology, we could never replicate these vital services. It’s been estimated that the value of these services equates to $46 trillion per year! It certainly makes economical sense to look after our biodiversity and ecosystems, which do all these things for free.
- Soil formation and retention
- Water and nutrient cycling
- Production of atmospheric oxygen
- Provision of habitat
- Fuel and fibre
- Natural medicines and pharmaceuticals
- Genetic resources
- Flood and water regulation
- Water purification
- Spiritual and religious
- Mental wellbeing and health
- Cultural heritage
- Ecotourism and recreation
- Inspiration and aesthetic
We are reliant on biodiversity for our food and water security. Three billion people are dependent on fish to provide 20% of animal protein. 80% of the human diet is provided by plants from 15 main staple plants including corn, wheat and rice. These key species have been grown on vast scales with very little in the way of variety. This results in them being very vulnerable to disease which is exasperated by climate change. Biodiverse habitats are also vital for providing the clean, freshwater we need to drink.
Biodiversity and the climate change are inextricably linked. We need thriving and biodiverse ecosystems to help us combat the climate crisis. From mangroves, peat bogs, kelp forests, seagrass beds, tropical forests, and rich grasslands. These diverse intact habitats are vital for absorbing and locking away carbon as we work on cutting emissions.
What is driving biodiversity loss?
Put simply, our habits are driving biodiversity loss at an unprecedented rate. Habitat loss is ranked as the primary cause of species loss globally. This is caused by factors including agriculture, urbanisation, industrial development and extraction of natural resources. Habitat fragmentation separates populations, making their populations unviable, and vulnerable to localised extinctions.
Other factors include climate change, illegal wildlife exploitation, pollution, disease and the introduction of non-native species. So, much of what we do, consume and the way we live has an impact on biodiversity. How can we reverse this trend? What can we do to help?
We are part of the solution #ForNature
It isn’t all doom and gloom! We have the chance to restore ecosystems and transform the way we live, work and consume as the world recovers from the Covid pandemic. As we are part of nature, we are also part of the solution.
From grassroots activism, to making better and more informed choices on what we eat and consume, we can all play our part.
- We can act locally by volunteering our time to organisations looking to restore natural ecosystems in our area
- Choose ethical banking, this will invest money into positive environmental projects and away from deforestation, fossil fuels and human rights violations
- Shopping locally, seasonally and looking for organic if possible
- Creating a haven for wildlife in our own gardens
- Encouraging our children’s schools to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity and climate change
- Supporting our own children’s understanding and connection to the natural world
- Choose organic cotton clothing
- Reduce our reliance on plastics, particularly single use plastics, and choosing reusables instead
- Look at alternative methods of transport and energy sources
- Cutting out harmful chemicals from our homes, by choosing environmentally safe cleaners, reef safe sun protection, and natural health and beauty products
Reconnect with nature
Reconnecting with nature is going to be essential for our future. There are things we can all do to have a positive impact on biodiversity day and beyond, and the list above is only a few suggestions. This year is going to be so important for biodiversity and the climate with the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in October, followed by the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021. We are at major crossroads, but together we can raise awareness and bring about change #ForNature