Why is it so important to protect Mother Nature's biodiversity?
This Easter, we are reminded of rebirth, growth, and nature’s lifecycle. But, it’s important to reflect on how much danger our planet’s natural diversity is in. All parts of the ecosystem need to be protected - as everything is so intrinsically connected. It has never been more vital that we look after our planet’s biodiversity and we don’t have time to wait around, as, despite popular belief, Coronavirus did not have as positive an impact on nature as we all thought…
Coronavirus and biodiversity - the truth
Looking out from urbanised areas, it was easy for us to presume that nature was thriving whilst we all stayed at home. We saw photos of buffalos wandering around New Dehli, dolphins swimming in Venitian waters and mountain goats wandering through Welsh towns. Everyone thought that ‘nature was healing’ - with us inside, creatures had the space to roam free without human disturbance. But, what about the other, less inhabited areas of the planet? These less developed, lower-income countries often have the greatest biodiversity, and therefore need protecting the most.
These areas were struck hard during the pandemic which only made poverty worse. Without visits from wealthy tourists, economies struggled and food sources became unreliable. But, humans were not the only species that found Coronavirus devastating. There has been an increase in deforestation. Data taken by Global Land Analysis and Discovery during the first month of lockdown revealed that deforestation alerts were more than double that of last year. This is detrimental to the biodiversity of the planet as it is estimated that tropical rainforests contain about 50% of the world's plant and animal species. The worst-hit rainforests were across the African tropics where deforestation increased by 136%. They suspect that this is due to fewer patrols and forest monitoring when everyone was ordered to stay at home. There was also a slackening of biodiversity-protecting laws.
Deforestation has increased by 136% in African Tropics since coronavirus.
Devastatingly, rates of poaching have also increased. In areas where eco-tourism holds up its economy, areas are left deserted and poachers have taken advantage. The pandemic also caused disruptions to many conservational projects. ‘Covid has directly affected communities that we have worked with.’ wrote Julia Fa, a researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University. Biodiversities are being dangerously threatened and it’s through supporting the locals in these high-biodiverse habitats that create the most effective solutions.
The 17 countries with the most biodiversity - known as ‘megadiverse countries - hold over ⅔ of all non-fish animal species and ¾ of all plant species. All of these countries are developing with poor economies. From looking at history, we know that the increased poverty rate - which the pandemic will undoubtedly cause - is directly linked to an increase in deforestation and biodiversity loss. This is because people are more dependent on fuel, timber and bushmeat for a source of income.
The 17 megadiverse countries hold ⅔ of all non-fish animal species and ¾ of all plant species - they are all developing, low-income countries and most susceptible to the effects of coronavirus.
Why we must protect biodiversity
Destroying one part of the ecosystem - no matter how small - affects it as a whole. For example, when the population of bees or butteries is damaged, this harms plants and crops too. This then has an effect on all other wildlife in the ecosystem. To make sure that all these animals thrive, we must protect where they live. We must protect nature's balanced ecosystem.
A healthy biodiversity protects water resources and soil formation. It also breaks down foreign matter and contributes to climate stability. When an ecosystem is diverse, it means that the area can recover after natural disasters and unpredictable events - the species operate together to bounce back faster.
When the biodiversity of the planet is altered, we suffer too. Over 40% of the world’s economy is derived from natural resources. We take it for granted, but nature is used for food, medicine, wood, fuel and so much more. The suffering will be significant when we can no longer rely on nature’s supplies.
How can we help?
Local projects have been proven to be the most effective in helping to maintain biodiversity in these low-income countries. If we act now, we can stop detrimental changes happening to wildlife that affects our entire planet. It is essential that there are rules and regulations in place to protect these areas. But more importantly, it is important that those living in countries with high biodiversity have other sources of income other than taking advantages of the nature that surrounds them. Tree-planting schemes help local communities protect their natural environments and all that lives within them. Afforestation helps increase the biodiversity of forests which protect all the creatures that live there. It also gives locals jobs and financial security so there is no need to use nature’s resources in an unsustainable way, as income.
When you purchase jewellery from Offset, you are providing the education and resources for 10 trees to be planted by these indigenous rural communities. These people are trained in sustainable farming techniques that protect the area’s biodiversity. It gives them financial security without having to use nature’s sources unsustainably. By combining their local knowledge of the area with new, sustainable farming techniques, this process of reforestation makes the most out of the local land. This ensures that all wildlife- from the bottom to the top of the food chain - benefits from the creation of these habitats.