Protecting biodiversity with its natural wealth that has shaped our history, our identity, and our economy. The natural environment improves our overall health and well-being and provides us with clean air and water, farmland, food, timber, and renewable energy; opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Many species of plants and animals surround us. They are in different ecosystems, such as forests, lakes, wetlands, and grasslands. All of these living species form what is called biodiversity.
1. Protecting diversity; definition
1.1 A simple definition of diversity
Biodiversity refers to all species and living things on Earth or in a specific ecosystem.
1.2 A scientific definition of biodiversity
The term "biodiversity" designates the variety of constituent elements of living things. Biodiversity includes both the different species and forms of life (animal, plant, entomological, and other) and their variability, which is their evolutionary dynamics in their ecosystems.
Traditionally, there are three levels of biodiversity: genetic biodiversity, specific biodiversity, and ecosystem biodiversity.
- Genetic biodiversity
It is about the diversity of genes that exist in the living world. Between different species and within these species, there are different genes and different expressions of genes that contribute to the multiplicity of life forms, phenotypes, physical and biological traits.
- Specific biodiversity
We speak of specific biodiversity to describe the diversity of living species. There are millions of living species on Earth, all different, divided into groups with their own specificities (insects, animals, plants, fungi, etc.). There are two categories of specific biodiversity:
Intraspecific biodiversity: Intraspecific biodiversity refers to the genetic variety of individuals and populations of the same species. The fact that within the human species, there are individuals with white or black skin, blond or brown hair, green or blue eyes is one of the different examples of intraspecific biodiversity.
Interspecific biodiversity: On the contrary, interspecific biodiversity designates the diversity of living species among themselves by their number, nature, and relative importance.
- Ecosystem biodiversity
Ecosystem biodiversity refers to ecosystem variety, by their nature and number, where living species interact with their environment and with each other. For example, there are different ecosystems on Earth with their specificities: deserts, swamps, plains, forests, and within these ecosystems particularities: cold desert, hot desert, boreal forests, tropical forests. Each of these ecosystems has its peculiarities, its specificities, its species, its functioning.
At each level and between them, interaction is a primordial notion: it underlines a constantly evolving reality. The assessment of biological diversity and their interactions applies to all types of organisms (plants, animals, and others) and to the ecosystems of which they are part and where they interact.
2. Protecting biodiversity; why is it so important to protect biodiversity?
We are facing an unprecedented demographic development that is likely to increase pressure on the environment. Population doubles every year, resulting in growing needs for areas dedicated to urbanization, agricultural development, road, and energy infrastructure. This is why we have to pay special attention to natural environments and the species that live there.
There are many reasons to protect biodiversity:
- It guarantees the proper functioning of ecosystems: the destruction of a species can then weaken the entire ecosystem.
- It has direct economic importance; wood, food, medicine ...
- It provides many indirect and vital services, called "eco-systemic services": pollination, oxygen production, climatic balance, water purification, flood management ...
- It has considerable aesthetic, recreational, spiritual, and cultural value.
- It is the pledge of the evolution and adaptability of life in the face of change: climate, diseases ...
- It is little known: if 1.8 million species have been described in the world, there will remain between 10 and 100 million species to discover.
- Biodiversity helps maintain the strains of living things.
3. Protecting biodiversity; how can we protect the biodiversity?
Protecting biodiversity is a very complex task because most of our actions affect ecosystems, which can weaken biodiversity. For example, our human activities generate pollution that affects living species. Deforestation destroys the habitat of animals, insects, and plants. Our agriculture favors certain productions to the detriment of others, which leads to the destruction of certain ecosystems and specific species. To protect biodiversity, we should, therefore, change our economic model to limit our impact on the natural environment as much as possible:
- Limit deforestation.
- Limit the artificialization of natural environments and preserve natural spaces as much as possible.
- Reduce air pollution (by limiting our use of transport and our energy consumption, by switching to renewable energies).
- Fight against global warming by limiting the greenhouse effect.
- Reform industrial agriculture towards agroecology.
Other things to do to help protecting biodiversity
Volunteer: Participate in or organize a clean-up activity (of a park, gully, or river).
Grow native plants: Grow native trees and plants at home.
Reduce your ecological print
Many species are disappearing because of humans. To reduce your ecological print and help preserve biodiversity, you can:
calculate your ecological print and find ways to use less energy.
Buy local products
Find a market near you and shop for local fruits, vegetables, meats, and other produce.
Buying local products can:
Help perpetuate rare and heritage species.
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport of food.
Stimulate the local economy.
limit the use of phytosanitary products
Pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, and even weedkillers are the worst enemies of biodiversity. They pollute the water tables and destroy small fauna. Limiting, reducing, or even stopping their use is a major step towards an ecological garden. There are alternatives (thermal weeding, hoeing, use of insects for biological control, mulching). All you need to do is find out and apply the other suggested actions.
4. Protecting biodiversity; biodiversity loss and the COVID-19 pandemic
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. By disturbing nature's delicate balance, encroaching on wildlife, reducing genetic diversity within animal populations, causing climate change and extreme weather events. We have created ideal conditions for viruses to spread between animals and humans. Nature sends us a message.
- How can we help in the environmental protection for a better life?
- Sustainable development, definition, objectives, and main principles
- Environment and Health; the impact of the environment on our health
Originally published on Live Positively.