Why protection of biodiversity is key

What you need to know:

Pollinators such as birds, bees and other insects are estimated to be responsible for a third of the world’s crop production

Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you will find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, insects, 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 is essential for the processes that support all life on earth, including humans. Without a wide range of animals, plants and microorganisms, we cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we rely on to provide us with the air we breathe and the food we eat.

 Pollinators such as birds, bees and other insects are estimated to be responsible for a third of the world’s crop production.

Biodiversity is at the heart of what drives the tourism industry. Tourist destinations such as tropical forests, beaches, national parks and even urban areas depend on their natural beauty to attract visitors and enchant them during their stay.

According to the World Economic Forum, around one in 10 people across the globe works in the tourism industry, and close to 1.4 billion tourists travel internationally every year. The magnitude of this sector highlights the significant impact it can have on our environment and establishes an incentive to protect our natural environments for the benefit of the industry, the visitors and communities in popular destinations.

To elaborate more, trees, bushes and wetlands and wild grasslands naturally slow down water and help soil to absorb water. When they are removed it can increase flooding.

 Trees and other plants clean the air we breathe and help us tackle the global challenge of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.

Coral reefs and mangrove forests act as natural defences protecting coastlines from waves and storms.  Additionally, many of our medicines, alongside other complex chemicals also originate from plants.

Spending time in nature is increasingly believed to lead to improvement in people’s physical and mental health. Simply having green spaces and trees in cities has proved to decrease hospital admissions, reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Plants absorb water from the soil and fix carbon from the atmosphere. They also reduce the city’s heat load. Even though native plants would probably support more species of insects and other wildlife, supporting ecosystem.

We are now losing biodiversity up to 10,000 times faster than it was disappearing 100 years ago, we must fight the biodiversity crisis and climate change at the same time.

One million species could soon face extinction. Climate change is accelerating at a breakneck pace, already affecting about half of all threatened mammal species and a quarter of threatened birds.

According to a study published in Science last year, if nothing is done to curb our carbon emissions, nearly 50 percent of the planet’s insects, which make up the foundation of food webs all over the globe, could disappear by the end of the century.

Further, the May 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) global assessment warns of nature’s dangerous decline with more than 1 million species threatened with extinction.   This is why we must fight the biodiversity crisis and climate change at the same time

We also must be well aware that the world is losing biodiversity at an alarming and saddening rate. It is estimated that up to 100,000 species go extinct each year largely due to human activities.

Available evidence shows that while human beings represent just 0.01 percent of all living creatures, they have caused the loss of 83 percent of wild mammals and half of plants. By saving plants and animals, we can save the world.

The diversity of life on earth is essential to our wellbeing. But nature is under pressure like never before due to our needs for food, water, land and energy. Biodiversity, the variation of life on earth, is a major factor in nature’s resilience.

One of the best strategies for combating global warming is to preserve those habitats that naturally lock up most carbon. Tropical forests, where giant, ancient trees constantly absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then fix it into the soil, store around 40 percent of all the carbon on land. This is why protecting natural forests like Bugoma and Mabira is so essential.

But it’s one thing to identify the importance of protecting animals and their habitats, and another to do it. So forest health and conservation are key weapons in the worldwide fight against climate change. It is important we curb global carbon pollution to a level that our forests and other ecosystems can process naturally.

Babra Kembabazi

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