Biodiversity describes the whole range of the different varieties of living things and systems of this earth. Biodiversity can be found everywhere – it includes animal species, plant species, genes, ecosystems and landscapes. Biodiversity is what allows ecosystems to work and flourish. Over millions of years many different species of plants and animals have come to live in the same habitats. Over time they balance each other and hold the ecosystem together. And this biodiversity has been facing a constant decline and adversity. As humans become greedier, we forget our roots and the sole source that keeps us alive and goes on exploiting all the resources available to us in order to gain large profits.
For billions of years the loss of biological diversity has been caused by gradual natural occurrences such as glaciation or extreme events such as volcanic eruptions.
However, for the last few thousand years the main cause has been the growth of human population and the enormous pressure we exert on the planet. We transform our natural ecosystems into agricultural fields and urban areas, we release pollutants, CO2 and invasive species into the environment which damages our ecosystems. Our economic pursuits have led to the extinction of many animal and plant species. When a species is removed (biodiversity is reduced) the ecosystem can lose its balance, causing it to break down. One iconic example of this is sea otters in kelp forests along the California coast. Sea otters feed on sea urchins and sea urchins feed on kelp. If sea otters are removed sea urchins multiply, eating large portions of the kelp forest, destroying the habitat and eventually leading to the death of other animals that live there. The whole ecosystem falls apart. The loss of biodiversity is therefore compromising the quality of our lives. The grave importance and impact that our biodiversity has on us has been described in the previous answer. Biodiversity acts as our main base for ecological balance in the world. If this balance is destroyed, there’s no doubts that destruction will be upon us.
Therefore, if we ignore our responsibilities in protecting the biodiversity we will inevitably end up destroying our future. Thus, it is important for us to conserve our biodiversity. Biodiversity conservation refers to the protection, upliftment, and management of biodiversity in order to derive sustainable benefits for present and future generations. Here are some ways that we can conserve biodiversity.
(1) Government legislation – Governments have the power to control what is done to the habitats within their country. Legislation that protects natural habitats by outlawing development, harvesting of natural resources, or other human exploitation has a huge impact on maintaining natural biodiversity.
Protecting habitats before they have been altered is the best form on biodiversity conservation and is most successfully implemented by government regulations.
(2) Plant local flowers, fruits and vegetables – Research the plants and vegetables that are local to your area and grow a variety. Each plant and vegetable helps to protect biodiversity and supports the wider ecosystem of your local area.
(3) Conserve Your Water Use – Fresh bodies of water are essential to biodiversity.
Reducing the amount of water you use, by having a 5-minute shower or not running the water when washing up the dishes, can help protect vital wetlands.
Plant scientists are also working to help conserve by developing crop varieties that use less water.
(4) Reducing amount of invasive species – Invasive species are sometimes introduced to an area on purpose, but also sometimes by accident. To limit the number of invasive species moved by accident planes, ships, and cargo must be thoroughly checked before it is offloaded in a new country. Additionally, people should not bring new species of animals or plants to an area without consulting ecologists knowledgeable on the region.
(5) Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – Recycling lessens pollution by decreasing energy, electricity, and water consumption and the need for landfills. Not only can you recycle bottles and cans, but your local recycling centre will usually allow you to recycle clothes, electrical goods and batteries.
(6) Support Farmers – Farmers play a key role in conserving biodiversity. With the help of biotechnology and plant science, farmers can grow more food on the same amount of land. This takes the pressure off the need to convert natural habitats into farmland.
(7) Maintenance of Wetlands – Maintain wetlands by conserving water and reducing irrigation. Avoid draining water bodies on your property.
(8) In-situ conservation methods – The most effective way for us to conserve biodiversity with our present knowledge is probably in-situ conservation, that is the conservation of species within their natural habitats. Sometimes direct measures can be taken to protect a species or ecosystem, like creating a wildlife refuge or bird sanctuary.
(9) Ex-situ conservation methods – In some situations, though ex-situ conservation methods are essential. That is, the conservation of biological diversity outside of the natural habitats. We are all familiar with efforts to save the last members of endangered species by capturing them from the wild and transporting them to a zoo where many of their natural threats are removed, their health can be monitored and breeding efforts made. The goal is to grow the population and reintroduce them to their natural habitat. Some plants that can no longer survive in nature unaided are candidates for ex-situ conservation. These are generally maintained in botanical gardens. In addition to plant tissue, microbial cultures are collected and saved.
(10) Purchase of environmental-friendly products – Use environmentally friendly products. Dispose of hazardous material safely. Chemicals that enter the sewer system can contaminate freshwater and ocean ecosystems.
(11) Take a Walk – Climate change can have devastating consequences for biodiversity. Reducing your carbon footprint by taking the bus or walking can help protect it. Plant scientists are also working to combat climate change every day. One example is through innovative developments in conservation till age, which uses less fuel and therefore reduces the emission of greenhouse gases.
(12) Educate Yourself and Those Around You – Learn as much as you can about nature and share your knowledge with others. Educating people about the importance of biodiversity conservation increases public awareness of the issue. Visit ecological interpretation centres, natural history museums, and native fish hatcheries to study local ecosystems. Volunteer at an organization that focuses on conservation or restoration of habitat.
Biodiversity is the utmost gift that we are blessed with and it is our duty to preserve it and let our future generations enjoy the benefits of it as much as we did. As E.O. Wilson rightly said, we should learn to use our biodiversity in the right manner, understand its connect with humanity and learn its importance because it is the most priceless possession we can ever have.