Saving Global Biodiversity – should we bother? What is so important about the Earth’s biological diversity? We live in such uncertain times: the Coronavirus, climate change, wars and starvation. Surely worrying about saving global biodiversity is just too much?
Wrong! Saving global biodiversity will save the human race. Our very existence depends on it. And we are part of it. Biodiversity is a compound word: Bio is a Greek word for life and diversity means many different kinds. So biodiversity means many different kinds of life – plants, animals, birds, reptiles, insects, spiders, fungi, algae, you name it.
International Day of Biological Diversity
The International Day of Biological Diversity is celebrated every year on 22 May. Earth Kids have joined this movement too, after a successful Earth Day celebration on 22 April. Earth IS Biodiversity. We need Both!
Biodiversity includes a variety of ecosystems where all living things rely on each other for survival. Food webs and food chains exist to ensure the delicate balance in nature so that all species get enough food and one species does not dominate. It is sad to think that the human race is rapidly upsetting that delicate balance as we take-take-take natural resources greedily, not sharing with other living things.
What does it mean when we hear that phrase: “Everything is connected”? It simply means that everything in nature is connected physically or to serve a purpose or thanks to geographical location. In all living things, hearts beat and drive the brain and limbs; colours in species serve to protect them from predators or to attract a mate; and certain species exist in the same ecosystem and depend on each other for survival. A leopard eats a buck in a game reserve, for example, which is the African Savanna ecosystem. Did you know that all of these connections rely on a flow of energy and help to transmit that energy? It is that energy that ensures the many interconnections in nature!
Think about the non-living things in biodiversity: water, sun, air and soil. These things provide the living things with energy to live! Food, air to breathe, warmth in winter and coolness in summer. Remember that without the sun’s energy, most of life on earth would not exist! Plants are the fuel for animals right through the food chain – humans eat plants and animals and need both to survive.
How sad it is that humans are in the process of destroying that energy flow! humans are going to cause massive extinction of animals and plants, as well as their own race if they are not careful! We take non-renewable resources without any thought for other life that need them: oil, water, gas and air. What has happened to our respect for nature and all that she does for us?We are choking our own lifeblood to death.
The Web of Life
Back to Biodiversity: the web of life, the variety of living things on Earth. Short for ‘biological diversity’, biodiversity includes the many species of all
living things, from humans, animals, plants and fungi down to the tiniest organism. This brings us again to ecosystems – communities of living and non-living things that are inter-connected.
- The producers are the first group of an ecosystem. Green plants are the producers because they make their own food by photosynthesis. They use the energy they get from the sun and water in the soil.
- The consumers are the second group – plants are eaten by animals that get their energy from eating producers or from eating animals that do. Consumers are herbivores or carnivores.
- The decomposers are the third group – animals or plants that break down dead animals or plants into organic materials that go into the soil, which enriches it – such as fungi.
Without biodiversity we would not eat or wear clothes. We would have no homes, no clean air or water, warmth or contentment. We need Biodiversity! Why then are humans causing the Sixth Extinction? Scientists estimate that we are losing about 8 species an hour, 70 000 a year!
What can we do to help biodiversity?
- Plant indigenous plants or help rejuvenate wild areas to attract indigenous birds and animals
- Create an indigenous garden for the wildlife in your area
- Make a wetlands habitat to attract frogs to your garden
- Plant shrubs and trees that attract insects and birds to your garden, and add a birdbath
- Remove weeds: they are not indigenous plants and can smother or overtake indigenous habitat
- Tell as many people you can about biodiversity and why we NEED it for our survival!