International Day for Biological Diversity – 22nd May 2011

Vumba – “Mountains in The Mist” Zimbabwe

Biodiversity is the result of billions of years of evolution. Biological diversity is the variety of life forms at all levels of biological systems, ie micro organisms, ecosystems, species etc. All life on earth is part of one great, interdependent system. It interacts with, and depends on, the non-living components of the planet: atmosphere, oceans, freshwaters, rocks, and soils. Humanity depends totally on this community of life, this unique biosphere, of which we are an integral part.

 

The 1992 United Nations Earth Summit defined “biological diversity” as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ‘inter alia’, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” This definition is used in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

“Biological diversity” or “biodiversity” can have many interpretations. It is most commonly used to replace the more clearly defined and long established terms, species diversity and species richness. Biologists most often define biodiversity as the “totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region. An advantage of this definition is that it seems to describe most circumstances and presents a unified view of the traditional three levels at which biological variety has been identified, species diversity, ecosystem diversity and genetic diversity.

Gache Gache – “Spurwing Geese” Zimbabwe

Biodiversity’s relevance to human health has become more evident as scientific evidence builds on the global health implications of biodiversity loss. This issue is closely linked with the issue of climate change, as many of the anticipated health risks of climate change are associated with changes in biodiversity (e.g. changes in populations and distribution of disease vectors, scarcity of fresh water, impacts on agricultural biodiversity and food resources etc.) Some of the health issues influenced by biodiversity include dietary health and nutrition security, infectious disease, medical science and medicinal resources, social and psychological health.

Our planet is one mass of biodiversity teeming with incredible variations in land and water forms, plant and animal species, birds, insects, the lists are endless.

Gache Gache - "Rainbow Over Kariba" Zimbabwe

Gache Gache – “Rainbow Over Kariba” Zimbabwe

From the time humans inhabited this earth, there has been a consistent and ongoing reduction in biodiversity due to our own actions, we have pillaged and raped our earth. Globally we have destroyed habitats and ecosystems. Our history books will tell the story, extinction, deforestation, desertification, uncontrolled urban development, overpopulation, mining for natural resources, poor waste management systems to name a few. Places where rivers once ran and water was plentiful, there are now deserts, where forests stood tall and green as far as the eye could see, the land is barren. Animals have been hunted and many of our species like the Rhino are in a critically endangered position.

When do we as an intelligent, thinking species say ‘enough’ and collectively take action, before it is too late. The sad truth is, for many species, it is too late, they are now extinct. Science even has a ‘term’ for this, it is known as ‘the Holocene extinction event’, it is the impact, we as humans are having on our environment. It has been argued that if the rate of extinction continues at current levels, we will see the elimination of many species within the next 100 years. Quite simply, we are destroying our planet’s biodiversity.

Help us conserve our biodiversity in Zimbabwe and support a worthy project such as the Wildlife Environment Protection Units (WEPU), the Green Funds and the Green Zambezi Alliance. Together we can make a difference.

 

 

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