To build back better biodiversity


Biodiversity is a term used to describe the astonishing variety and variability of living organisms on planet Earth. Diverse communities of bacteria, fungi, plant, and animal organisms form ecosystems with their physical environment, and their interconnections within these ecosystems are the basis of biodiversity. The complexity of these interconnections is the result of millions of years of evolution and is one of the key reasons that maintaining biodiversity is so important. Every species relies on other species for food, shelter, and reproduction, and the local extinction or introduction of any one species can have a dramatic chain reaction of consequences for the ecosystem. We will find in one area-the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
But as humans put increasing pressure on the planet, using and consuming more resources than ever before, we risk upsetting the balance of ecosystems and losing biodiversity.It has been estimated that we are using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths in terms of resources, far exceeding the planetary boundaries that define the safe limits for human impact on natural systems. For example, 96% of mammal biomass is humans and livestock, and 70% of bird biomass globally is domestic poultry. Our food production has an enormous impact on the planet, with 38% of global land surface being dedicated to agriculture. Three-quarters of the land-based environment and roughly 66% of the ocean environment have been significantly altered. More than a third of the world's land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Climate change worsens the impact of other stressors on nature and our well-being. Humans have overfished the oceans, cleared forests, polluted our water sources, and created a climate crisis. These actions are impacting biodiversity around the world, from the most remote locales to our own backyards. Biodiversity loss threatens the world's ability to tackle issues such as poverty, hunger, poor health and water shortages - problems that need addressing to future-proof the planet's liveability and sustain the economy. It amounts to value destruction and as such, it is relevant to us all, whether we are investors, asset managers or ordinary citizens. The rapid rate at which human societies have colonised the world and exploited natural resources has put unsustainable pressure on our ecosystems. Deforestation is still sweeping the globe, destroying ancient forests that are essential for wildlife and storing carbon. We have lost meadows, wetlands, coral reefs, and a multitude of other habitats due to human actions and it is vital that we act now to reverse the damage and preserve the planet and our way of life.
Biodiversity loss threatens the world's ability to tackle issues such as poverty, hunger, poor health and water shortages - problems that need addressing to future-proof the planet's liveability and sustain the economy. It amounts to value destruction and as such, it is relevant to us all, whether we are investors, asset managers or ordinary citizens. As the sustainable investor for a changing world, we pursue investment returns that can be upheld over the long term and that are in balance with society and the environment.
The International Day for Biological Diversity reminds us to be mindful of our relationship to the natural world. Despite its entire technological prowess, the world depends on healthy and robust ecosystems for water, food, medicines, shelter and energy among other things. In the words of the United Nations, "Biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better".
We can participate in biodiversity conservation by increasing our knowledge of environmental issues, increasing our awareness of the impacts of biodiversity loss, and increasing support for government policies and actions that conserve our valuable ecosystems. We can become educators and role models as stewards of the environment by aiding in the recovery of species at risk and preventing other species from becoming at risk. The biodiversity conservation could include: Identify locations of critical wildlife habitat for species at risk and the threats to these areas. Where possible, eliminate threats and maintain natural areas. Leave critical wildlife habitat undisturbed, especially nesting and denning sites. Promote wildlife use by setting up bird and bat houses.Eradicate and control introduced weeds on your property. Keep vehicles on main roads to reduce the spread of weeds and disturbance to wildlife.Monitor and assess your pets' impact on biodiversity. Some domestic animals, especially cats, are predators of wild animals and can devastate local population of native species. Leave native plants undisturbed, and landscape using native trees and vegetation. Native plants are well adapted to local conditions and provide a low maintenance, drought resistant garden and can prevent local flooding. Attract "good" insects by planting pollen & nectar plants. Maintain wetlands by conserving water and reducing irrigation. Avoid draining water bodies on your property.Construct fences to protect riparian areas and other sensitive habitats from trampling and other disturbances.Manage livestock grazing to maintain good quality range conditions. Leave some areas ungrazed to determine range characteristics to manage for.
Maintain old standing dead trees and mature forest stands. Large dead trees provide nest cavities for many species and the mature forest will be replaced by old growth over time. Consider donating property to land trusts, or placing a conservation covenant on your property. This process allows you to protect your land and benefit from potential tax breaks. Use natural products and methods for pest control, use pesticides that have minimal residual effects, use a high-pressure water stream from a hose to control aphids; use barriers and collars around plants to keep pests away. 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.
Encourage and support local government initiatives that protect habitat and decrease threats to biodiversity.Use environmentally friendly products. Dispose of hazardous material safely. Chemicals that enter the sewer system can contaminate freshwater and ocean ecosystems.Recycle, reuse and reduce. Recycling decreases pollution by decreasing energy, electricity, and water consumption and the need for landfills. Drive less, walk, ride or carpool more. Learn about low emission vehicle research and availability.
Tackling the biodiversity crisis will require cooperation at all levels of society, from intergovernmental agreements down to local community action. Individuals can play their part in creating the institutions and electing leaders who can help to safeguard biodiversity. Reconnecting with nature and encouraging others to do the same can help people to learn more about local ecosystems respect them and treasure them.
(Views expressed are personal)

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