Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the recently celebrated International Day for Biological Diversity 2020 was commemorated through its first ever online-only campaign.
As the global community is called to re-examine its relationship to the natural world, one thing is certain: despite all our technological advances we are completely dependent on lively and healthy ecosystems for our health as well as food, water, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy, just to name a few.
The slogan for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity: “Our solutions are in nature” emphasised hope, solidarity and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.
2020 is seen as the year of reflection, opportunity and solutions, and build a stronger global framework that will “bend the curve” on biodiversity loss for the benefit of humans and all life on our planet.
What is biodiversity and why is it some important in our lives?
“The variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable”.
Biodiversity is the shortened form of the two words "biological" and "diversity". It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live.
Biodiversity includes three main types: diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (species diversity) and between ecosystems (ecosystem diversity).
Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how big or small, all have an important role to play. For example: A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops. Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.
A healthy biodiversity offers many natural services:
- Biological resources, such as food, medicinal resources, and pharmaceutical drugs
- Ecosystem services, such as protection of water resources, soils formation and protection
- Social benefits, such as research, education and monitoring, recreation, and tourism.
Biodiversity also plays a critical role in human nutrition through its influence on world food production, as it ensures the sustainable productivity of soils and provides the genetic resources for all crops, livestock, and marine species harvested for food.
Healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. A wide variety of species will cope better with threats than a limited number of them in large populations.
Why is biodiversity loss a concern?
Biodiversity is the term given to describe the variety of life on our planet. Loss of biological diversity disrupts the functioning of ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to perturbations and less able to supply humans with needed services.
Biodiversity is under serious threat as a result of human activities. The main dangers worldwide are population growth and resource consumption, climate change and global warming, habitat conversion and urbanisation, invasive alien species, over-exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation.
So, what can you do to help our biodiversity?
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut down on what you throw away and follow the three "R's" to conserve important natural resources and landfill space.