Let’s Focus on Biodiversity
By: Jo Doumbia
To get the year going, I’d like to share some views on biodiversity, hoping you find them useful. In simple terms, biodiversity is all the natural world surrounding us— clean water and air, food, and a stable climate.
Human dependence on biodiversity extends beyond the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Our planet is home to plants, animals, land, water, atmosphere, and the human population. Biodiversity has a direct impact on humanity’s health, wealth, and security, and we all have a role to play in the planet’s ecosystems because, without it, our lives are on the line. Ecosystems rely on biodiversity to function properly. It’s like an intricate puzzle, where everything needs to fit together just right.
Biodiversity provides humanity with medicines that keep us healthy as well as materials we use for our homes and clothes. But it goes beyond that. Biodiversity also affects things like how diseases spread, what the local climate is like, and how well communities and land recover from natural disasters.
The loss of biodiversity affects everyone, but it hits the most vulnerable people the hardest — those who are already marginalized, and who are already living in poverty. Vulnerable communities are especially at risk when biodiversity is lost.
Protecting places, like forests and oceans, for example, is particularly crucial because they clean and distribute water, absorb carbon dioxide, and protect us from natural disasters. However, we’re putting biodiversity at risk: deforestation, agriculture, overdevelopment, and pollution are major threats.
Fortunately, there is hope. In December 2022, governments and business leaders came together to adopt a landmark agreement to protect biodiversity and reverse nature’s rapid decline before it’s too late, which included a provision to protect 30% of the planet’s land, ocean, and inland waters.
But, we also need to use land much better. When we destroy natural habitats through land-use change, we rob countless species of their homes. Fragmenting ecosystems disrupts their balance, leaving less space for natural resources and survival. We need to conserve untouched areas, restore degraded land, and take a more holistic approach that protects biodiversity and prioritizes our shared future.
But climate change is the biggest biodiversity threat of all. The climate crisis is changing habitats, altering species distributions, disrupting reproductive cycles, and making species more susceptible to diseases and pests. Mass extinctions and the destruction of entire ecosystems occur when these causes are combined.
The climate crisis attracts more attention, but biodiversity and climate are two crises occurring in tandem. The global decline of biodiversity and climate change are both caused by humanity’s exploitative economic systems, they reinforce one another, and they demand the same levels of urgency for all to act. Awareness of the importance of biodiversity remains low.
Beyond switching to renewable energy, the best way to combat climate change is by restoring degraded landscapes, forests, and soil. Biodiversity is our greatest defense against climate change. Time is running out for our planet, for its people, and for the delicate ecosystems that hang in the balance.
We ought to take action by asking our government to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change before it’s too late. In addition, there are biodiversity preservation measures we should adopt and participate in such as removing invasives, planting native species, reducing the use of agrochemicals, and spreading the knowledge we have, among others. Join FACS so we can also work together to tackle these challenges.