The article discusses the significance of International Day for Biological Diversity, which is observed on May 22.The article explores the significance of biodiversity and examines the impact of human activities on it. It also provides comprehensive solutions to address these issues. By emphasizing the importance of biodiversity and highlighting the negative effects of human actions, the article underscores the need for conservation efforts.
(Source: The Hindu, 1st June, 2023)
What is the context?
- The International Biodiversity Day is popularly known as International Day for Biological Diversity observed on 22 May.
- It underscores the integral relationship between biodiversity and climate change and emphasizes the need for conservation efforts to preserve our natural world.
- It emphasizes that the natural world plays a crucial role in addressing the climate change crisis and the decline of biodiversity, both of which we consider existential threats to our future.
Significance of International Day for Biological Diversity
- The United Nations has proclaimed 22nd May as The International Day for Biological Diversity to enhance understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
- The theme of the 2023 International Day for Biological Diversity is “From agreement to action: Build back biodiversity”.
- It highlights the crucial role of the natural world in addressing the climate change crisis and the decline of biodiversity, both of which pose threats to our future.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity refers to the wide variety of life forms and their interconnections with each other and the environment. It includes the variety of genes, species, and ecosystems. It exists everywhere, from our bodies as microbiomes to ecosystems in remote wild places.
Significance of biodiversity:
Biodiversity is significant for many reasons, including:
- It provides us with food, water, and medicine. Many of the foods we eat, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, come from plants.
- We also get important nutrients from animals, such as fish, meat, and dairy products. In addition, many plants and animals provide us with medicines. For example, aspirin is derived from the bark of a willow tree, and quinine is derived from the bark of a cinchona tree.
- It helps to protect us from natural disasters: Healthy ecosystems can help to prevent natural disasters, such as floods and landslides. For example, forests help to absorb water, which can help to prevent floods.
- Biodiversity not only fulfills our basic needs for food, shelter, medicines, mental health, recreation, and spiritual enrichment, but it also plays a crucial role in restoring degraded lands.
- It helps to regulate the climate: Plants and animals play a role in regulating the climate by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Maintaining and enhancing biodiversity on land and in oceans is a cost-effective way to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and cool our land and oceans.
- Foundation of a Sustainable green economy: It is vital for sustaining agriculture in the face of climate change and forms the foundation of a sustainable green economy.
- It is a source of beauty and inspiration: Biodiversity provides us with a sense of wonder and awe. It also inspires us to create art, music, and literature.
Human activities and impact on biodiversity
Human activities are having a negative impact on biodiversity. These activities include:
- Deforestation: Deforestation is the clearing of forests for agriculture, logging, and development. This destroys habitats and drives species to extinction.
- Pollution: Pollution from factories, cars, and other sources can harm plants and animals.
- Climate change: Climate change is causing the Earth to warm, which is leading to changes in plant and animal ranges. Human activities have a significant impact on biodiversity, often leading to detrimental consequences.
Some of the ways in which human activities affect biodiversity are as follows:
- Habitat Destruction: Human activities such as the construction of roads, dams, and infrastructure fragment habitats, isolating populations and reducing genetic diversity. This fragmentation can impede species’ movements, limit gene flow, and increase the risk of local extinctions. Deforestation, urbanization, and the conversion of natural landscapes into agricultural or industrial areas result in the loss and fragmentation of habitats. This disrupts ecosystems and displaces many plant and animal species, leading to a decline in biodiversity.
- Pollution: Various forms of pollution, such as air pollution, water pollution, and soil contamination, have detrimental effects on biodiversity. Pollutants can directly harm organisms or disrupt their habitats, leading to the decline or extinction of species.
- Overexploitation: Unsustainable hunting, fishing, and harvesting of natural resources can lead to the overexploitation of species. This often results in the depletion of populations, disruption of ecosystems, and loss of biodiversity.
- Invasive Species: Introduction of non-native species into ecosystems can have negative impacts on native species and biodiversity. Invasive species can outcompete native species for resources, disrupt food chains, and alter ecosystem dynamics.
- Climate Change: Human-induced climate change is a major threat to biodiversity. Rising temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events can disrupt ecosystems, negatively impacting species’ distribution, reproductive patterns, and survival.
- Agriculture and Deforestation: Expanding agricultural activities, including unsustainable farming practices and the clearing of land for crops or livestock, contribute to habitat loss, soil degradation, and the use of pesticides and fertilizers that can harm biodiversity. It is crucial to recognize the impact of these activities on biodiversity and work towards sustainable practices that conserve and protect ecosystems, promote habitat restoration, and mitigate the drivers of biodiversity loss.
What changes do we need to make to sustain biodiversity?
- There should be a paradigm shift in the way we care for biodiversity. Instead of solely focusing on forests, we need to consider multifunctional landscapes that encompass various ecosystems. Moreover, it is important to involve the aspirations, beliefs, and traditional knowledge of local communities.
- Additionally, stakeholders should actively participate in the management of biodiversity through gram sabhas and biodiversity management committees, with a decentralized approach.
National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing
- The National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing aims to mainstream biodiversity into various aspects of life. Moreover, it seeks to address challenges related to climate change, agriculture, ecosystem and public health, and promote human well-being.
- Additionally, the mission emphasizes citizen engagement and embedding biodiversity considerations in development programs. It also aims to foster curiosity and responsibility for safeguarding biodiversity, especially among children and students.
- The ultimate goal is to enhance and conserve biodiversity, supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- The mission supports a new green economy and involves citizens in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
International Day for Biological Diversity reminds us of the beautiful web of life on Earth and how everything is connected. It’s a wake-up call to realize how important biodiversity is and how we must protect it from the harm caused by human actions. Let’s appreciate the importance of conservation, take care of our planet, and work together to ensure that biodiversity thrives for our children and grandchildren.
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