International Biodiversity Day

 

International Biodiversity Day is celebrated on the 22nd May of each year as proclaimed by the United Nations, to raise awareness and understanding of biodiversity issues.  So what is biodiversity?  It is the term used to describe the variety of life found on Earth and all of the natural processes.  It is quite simple, biodiversity is life, land, air and water.  These four basic elements are essential for survival.  Why is biodiversity important?  All species, be it human, animals, plants or micro-organisms are part of the intricate web of life and are all inter-dependent within their particular ecosystems.

 

What happens when our biodiversity is damaged, destroyed or negatively affected through our own negligent actions or even through natural disasters – we have declines in food supplies, shortage of fresh water, increase in diseases, to name a few.

 

In the 2012 Living Planet Report produced by conservation agency World Wildlife Fund (WWF), showed that humanity is outstripping the Earth’s resources by 50 percent — essentially using the resources of one and a half Earths every year.  Colby Loucks, the director of conservation sciences at WWF, compared humanity to bad houseguests, “We’re emptying the fridge, we’re not really taking care of the lawn, we’re not weeding the flower beds and we’re certainly not taking out the garbage,” Loucks said.  The report also tracks biodiversity and species populations across the globe and this year’s report details a staggering loss of 30 percent of biodiversity on average around the globe, meaning a major decline in the number of different species of plants, animals and other organisms.

We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal,” writes Jim Leape, director general of WWF International, in the report. “We are using 50 percent more resources than the Earth can provide, and unless we change course that number will grow very fast.”

According to the report’s footprint index, which evaluates resource consumption in relation to biocapacity, or the ability to renew resources and absorb CO2 emissions, the disparity between rich and poor nations, or developed and developing countries is increasing.  Gemma Cranston, an engineer and lead scients at the Global Footprint Network attributes this trend this trend to developed countries subsidizing their economic growth on the backs of developing nations.  She contends that the consumption demands of rich nations encourage poor countries to plunder their natural resource wealth for export.

Zimbabwe has a unique range of biodiversity throughout the different regions.  It is blessed with amazing wildlife, magnificent landscapes, vast ranges of vegetation, mountains, lakes, rivers and of course, the mighty Victoria Falls.  It is our responsibility as civil society to not only be concerned about conserving and protecting these national assets but to take action and put in measures to do so.  Urbanisation, economic development, water pollution, poor waste management, uncontrolled fires, invasive alien species such as lantarna all place a burden on our natural biodiversity.

 

Make biodiversity your concern:

 

Place less pressure on the environment by using less e.g. buy local, be aware of the amount of packaging your product uses, only consume what is necessary.

Support a conservation association or organization that promotes conservation of biodiversity.

Support programmes that aim to conserve threatened species such as the vultures, wild dog, cheetah, roan antelope and rhino.

Plant indigenous trees.

Practice the three R’s so that they become part of daily living – reduce, reuse and recycle.

Become a member of the Recycing Assocation of Zimbabwe. Be a Zimbabwean that cares for our planet and the our children’s future.  Help Save Our Planet.

 

www.environmentafrica.org

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