In an effort to increase awareness and encourage positive change, 2010 has been designated the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations.
What is biodiversity?
Basically, it’s the variety of life on earth: plant and animal species and the ecosystems that sustain them.
How does this variety affect our daily lives?
From the foods we eat to climate change, biodiversity affects us all.
Why should we be concerned?
Loss of biodiversity on the planet is happening at a rapid rate.
- Forests are being changed into croplands with devastating effects to climate.
- Species of plants and animals are being harvested at unsustainable rates.
- Changes to the timing of flowering and migration routes are affecting relationships between species within ecosystems.
- Introduced invasive species (plants, animals and micro-organisms) are threatening native species by competing for food and habitat.
- Pollution is creating dead zones in the ocean which can no longer sustain life.
What can be done at the local level?
Doing something about biodiversity can be as simple as encouraging the growth of native trees in your yard as opposed to growing exotic species that require extra maintenance to ensure their survival. It’s always amazed me how people move from the city to the country wanting to be close to nature, and then work so hard to tame the wild spaces in order to make them look ‘civilized.’
In the year ahead, I’ll be writing more on the subject of biodiversity, but for now it’s enough to simply introduce the subject.
We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well – for we will not fight to save what we do not love.
~ Stephen Jay Gould
For more information about 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, see the Convention on Biological Diversity.