Biodiversity in crisis

Biodiversity is in the news again and urgent action is needed……

In our role as consultant ecologists, we are continually striving to create places where both people and wildlife can thrive. Reading the latest news from the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) warning that one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activities, is therefore highly distressing. But is it surprising? We’ve all seen the devastating images, dead marine birds and sea mammals which have consumed plastic, the Orangutan fighting the JCB about to destroy his home, Swans making their nests from litter. We are indeed in the midst of a biodiversity crisis.

The term ‘biodiversity’ is one that as ecological consultants we are very familiar with but what does it actually mean? In very brief terms, it is essentially the variety of life on earth. And why is it so important? Because it forms the very foundations upon which we rely for our survival. From the soils beneath our feet which we need for growing food, to the bees which pollinate our crops, the trees which provide us with oxygen and the rivers which give us water.

Biodiversity includes animals, plants and micro-organisms all connected within delicately balanced ecosystems. Lose one of these important connections, and there will be knock on effects. We all know about climate change –but biodiversity and climate change are inextricably linked with healthy ecosystems being essential in adapting and mitigating against rising temperatures.

Most importantly biodiversity includes us, humans, Homo Sapiens and yet as people become more and more disconnected from nature, it can feel as though we are separate. But there is an abundance of well documented research on the benefits of nature for people in terms of health and wellbeing. We are part of biodiversity and cannot survive without it.

Here in the south west, it’s hard to imagine that we are in a biodiversity crisis, being surrounded by beautiful landscapes, rolling farmland, ancient woodlands, the estuaries, moor and coast. But step into a field in summer and look around and listen, how many wild flowers and butterflies do you see, how many bees and grasshoppers do you hear? Wildflower meadows have declined by 97% since the 1930’s and are just one of many examples of how biodiversity has suffered. Habitats once widespread in the countryside now frequently occur as isolated pockets. The species reliant upon them under increasing pressure.

By the way, in latin, Homo sapiens means ‘wise man’. Mother Nature would perhaps beg to differ on the ‘wise’ part at this moment in time. There is no denying it – this current crisis is down to us. Exploitation and disregard of the importance of our environment has led to where we are now – with the very processes upon which we are so reliant in jeopardy. As the authors of the IPBES report say – the only way to prevent ecological disaster is to undergo ‘transformative change- away from subsides for detrimental practices and constant economic growth’.

Going back to the ‘wise man’ comment – as humans we do have the capability to avert this impending disaster. Nature conservation bodies, wildlife enthusiasts, and scientists to name a few have been campaigning on the matter for decades. Maybe they will finally be heard. And we can all make a difference, in our own back gardens, allotments and city parks creating wildlife havens- whatever and wherever it is, action must be taken now before it’s too late.

Here at Burton Reid we are wholeheartedly on board. We actively seek collaborative working relationships with like-minded people, businesses and organisations that help to drive and support the change that is so desperately needed. It may sound dramatic to some, but our future depends on it.

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