Written by: Allie Willison, Customer Experience @blueland
April 26, 2021
The beauty of nature is that we are all interconnected. All species, insects, mammals, reptiles, and humans (who, yes, are also mammals) rely on each other for survival. The success of the natural world is dependent on each organism playing its part to maintain the balance in the great play we call life. Shakespeare had it right, all the world is a stage and we’re just the players in it who are trying to keep it healthy.
This is called biodiversity. Biodiversity refers to the variety of plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi that make up the natural world we’re all living in. Yet due to human activity, the balance nature created is at risk of being thrown off-kilter permanently.
Why Is Biodiversity Important?
When you look into it, it’s fascinating how each piece of the natural world weaves together to make this rock livable. No matter how far we advance as a species, we’re still dependent on the world around us to survive.
Humans need biodiversity just as much as any other species. We rely on these ecosystems to provide and maintain the following:
- Purified air and water: For example, the wetlands of NY State help purify our water systems, which would require an $8 million dollar treatment facility to replicate.
- Climate regulation: Ecosystems regulate the surrounding climate through multiple processes including; carbon sequestration, pollination, erosion prevention, and more.
- Food security: Biodiversity is what made agriculture possible over 12,000 years ago. The factors of climate regulation play into food security as well, ie. soil health, fertilization of crops, growth of medical plants. Read more here.
- Raw materials: Like the plants and animals we eat, the raw materials we use for shelter, clothing, and tools also depend on biodiversity to thrive. Genetic diversity is naturally ingrained in the processes to help crops adapt so they can change with the environment.
- Recreation: Our outdoor activities that bring us that little boost of serotonin relies on a diverse and healthy environment. If these ecosystems disappear, so does the opportunity to enjoy them. Read more here.
Though we’re living in the modern world, we still need the basic components of life to keep on kicking. So what happens to us as the world’s biodiversity is negatively affected?
What has happened to our biodiversity from human activity?
Human beings have been shaping the world to our needs for a very, very long time. After the cognitive revolution, we were able to wield fire, domesticate plants and animals, and eventually build civilizations that have slowly shaped into the world we know today.
So what happens to the natural world when our advances swerve too far away from nature, creating more issues than solutions? The biodiversity of the planet suffers. Luckily, there are many conservation groups, scientists, and educators who are looking to stop the depletion of ecosystems worldwide.
The loss of biodiversity creates an imbalance in the food web. The less biodiverse an ecosystem is, the more susceptible it is to pest outbreaks, disease, and eventually-- failure. Contrary to what we’re taught to believe there is no such thing as “survival of the fittest” in nature, we are all interdependent. If one species fails, then the whole ecosystem is pushed out of whack.
An example of this is the lessening bee population. Bees are responsible for pollinating upwards of 130,000 different plant species. The honey bee has seen a massive decline in the past years due to human affliction, including endless development which destroys hives, farming practices that rely on pesticides, and the depletion of their food sources from deforestation.
How Can You Help Maintain Biodiversity?
You can help maintain your local ecosystem’s biodiversity easily with some of the following tips:
1. Respect your local environment. When going on walks or visiting a park don’t disturb the native plants or animals. Though it’s tempting to pluck all the wildflowers, let the environment live in it’s own beauty so more can grow for years to come.
2. Support your local farming community. Farmers markets and roadside stands are fantastic ways to support the local economy as well as small farms.
3. Plant native flowers. With the slow flower movement gaining popularity it’s important to turn to the native species of your area when gardening or looking for flowers to give a loved one. There are some circles (like the No-Mow movement) that call to do away with lawns all together since grass is usually not the natural landscape of an area and can be environmentally damaging.
4. Reduce your waste. By reducing the amount of waste you produce, you’re putting less plastics and pollutants into the environment, therefore reducing your impact on biodiversity.
6. Conserve your water. Water waste is another way you can reduce your impact on the ecosystem around you. Water running in your home is energy and reducing your energy output helps the environment. Learn ways to conserve water by room here.
6. Ditch the car for a bike or your own two feet. Cars, trucks, planes, and boats all contribute to harmful carbon emissions which affect the air pollutes that then trickle back into the ecosystems around us. By walking, biking, scootering, or carpooling to destinations, you can do your part to help lessen these.
7. Research your local conservation groups. Educate yourself on the local fauna and flora so you can build your home and world with the ecosystem you live in at the front of your mind.
At the end of the day, biodiversity is essential for life. We need every bee, flower, and speck of bacteria to keep doing it’s job so we can all keep on living for centuries to come. It’s all our responsibility to protect the world around us.
So stop and smell the local flowers, then find how you can do your best to keep our world biodiverse and beautiful.