Today the world celebrates Global Biodiversity Day and I do so in a mood of calm resolve to do what I can to help. Global Biodiversity Day 2019 is themed on “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”. I’ve just watched Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator speak candidly on video about how badly human activity has destabilized the balance of nature with our population now exceeding 7 billion, that’s over twice what it was when Astronauts first walked on the Moon. Now about a million species (approximately 1 in 8) are facing extinction because of the scale, character and spatial distribution of destructive human activity systems.
The key drivers of this destruction are:
- land use changes,
- climate change,
- invasive species.
According to a new Global Assessment report from the IBPES, “The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.”
In his speech lasting just under three minutes, Steiner encapsulates the key issue of our time, Biodiversity Crisis, saying:
“We are undermining the very infrastructure on which our modern world and our lives depend. Agricultural production today is the largest driver of deforestation and climate change.”Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
Quoting from the new IPBES report on biodiversity Steiner goes on to say that though the situation is very serious, there are 3.2 billion people at risk and we’ve lost 90% of crop diversity since 1900 and now 60% of mammal biomass is comprised of our domestic animals, the situation is not hopeless. He says, we can learn from “traditional, indigenous and scientific knowledge” and transform our behavior to “nurture nature and work with it.”
Steiner points out that:
“The loss of diverse diets is directly linked to diseases and health risks. If we lose the basic ingredients for farming there will be no way to feed the projected 9.8 billion people by the year 2050. Currently one third of the food produced goes to waste, so there is actually no need to cut down more forest right now… Production does not have to mean destruction.”UNDP Video
So, there we have it! There’s hope if we can live in better harmony with nature. Permaculture principles are the way forward! I think we can be less wasteful and more conservative. I’ll try to be.
Also check out UNDP’s Midori Paxton’s article on Impakter here for some more information on biodiversity. extinction, food, climate and inequality.
Midori is Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity at the UNDP’s – Global Environmental Finance Unit’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. In the above linked article she says:
“Our current ecological meltdown is inextricably intertwined with many “other crises” — for example inequality and climate change. The challenge of equal access to food with sufficient nutrition by the increasing global population, projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, is one good illustration of how loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, inequality and climate crisis cannot be viewed and addressed as issues apart. “Impakter
Even here in the USA there’s an interesting model of farming alongside nature at Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge between Delhi and Tallulah in Northeast Louisiana. Here the farmers set aside 30% of their crops for wildlife such as Louisiana Black Bear, Ursus americanus luteolus, pictured below scavenging corn after harvest. A great number of other creatures benefit too. There are also rice fields that are frequented by migratory water fowl, and some fields are flooded in wintertime for them.
See the linked pages below for information pertinent to 2019 Biodiversity Day!