by Alemayehu Kefalew/Ethiopia
Graphic Art by Chee Siang Teoh/ATO - ClimatEducate Project
Biodiversity is defined as the variety and variability of life (humans, plants, animals, micro-organisms). It is well noted that biodiversity, which is an important element of natural resource, plays a key role in human survival through the provision of essential ecosystem services and ecological processes (UNFCCC, 1992; Armenteras et al., 2009). Although the services are not fully appreciated by many in terms of the value they provide nature’s contribution to people (ecosystem services) has to be used wisely taking into consideration the needs and aspirations of the present generation without compromising its ability to offer the needs of the upcoming generations (Holden et al., 2014).
However, the current indiscriminate human actions are drastically causing biodiversity crisis and collapse of the associated ecosystem services to the extent of challenging the survival and continuity of life in general and human beings in particular (Laurance, 1999; Mani and Parthasarathy, 2006). This implies the interface between biodiversity and human wellbeing is very strong; and thus should be given sufficient considerations in scientific studies before the strong linkage is significantly and irreversibly altered.
Researchers generally accept three scales of biodiversity, of which ecosystem diversity (such as lakes, forests, agriculture landscapes) is the most complex one as it encompasses species and genetic diversity within it (Gaston and Spicer, 2004; Naeem et al., 2009). For instance among the global ecosystems forests are thought to be home to over 80% of biodiversity on land (Myers et al., 2000) that are vital for our survival. Such a portion of biodiversity (i. e., forest biodiversity) is also an indispensable part of the solution for combating the impacts of climate change (UNFCCC, 2005). Fish and Fabaceae plants are supposed to be a source of protein for a number of people globally. Most of our cereals are our day to day foods. Plants are also believed to be components of more than 80% of the human diet. Moreover, they are sources of traditional medicine for more than 80% of the rural people in rural areas.
Biodiversity is a pillar to our survival and contributes to the beauty and function of our planet. It is the source of our food, oxygen, clothes, and shelter; and it makes clean our drinks and air we breathe. A number of current studies also revealed that biodiversity has positive health effects. Biodiversity in urban parks and forests were found to give relief to stresses (Frumkin, 2001) and do have better emotional, physiological and restorative effects (Hartig et al., 2003; Hartig and Staats, 2003; Laumann et al., 2003; Morita et al., 2007). We feel safe if we have a safe environment or ecosystem. So don’t we need biodiversity really?
Realizing biodiversity as an important global asset with tremendous values to future generations, the UN has declared such wonderful resources to be remembered every day but officially sanctioned to be celebrated on May 22 to promote biodiversity issues.
In fact at the beginning before May 22 realized as International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), December 29 was designated as IDB as this date was the date that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) got into force in 1993. However, it was noted that this date was not comfortable for many countries as this date (December 29) coincides with a number of holidays. Thus, the UN Assembly in December 2000 adopted May 22 as IDB to remember the adoption of texts in the convention which was made on May 22, 1992 at the Nairobi Final Act of the conference for the adoption of the agreed text of the CBD. Hence, we annually commemorate May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity.
Talking about diversified life (also called biodiversity) is a huge concept; but at least today on this special day of May 22, we members of the ATO - ClimatEducate Project shall at least thoroughly communicate the values of biodiversity to people nearby us and away in an online and non-online platform and keep raising & promoting awareness in our communities about what would happen to us if those biodiversity has not been on the planet.
Moreover, ATO-CE should plan to work out on means of habitat restorations that have been long years effects of humans for conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity as such restoration will be also a key for our climate action.
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Alemayehu Kefalew is currently a project member of the ATO - ClimatEducate Project in Africa and a facilitator in ClimatEducate Educators' Network. He has an undergraduate degree in Teaching Biology from Debub University (Ethiopia). He did his M.Sc in Botanical Science and Vegetation Ecology from Addis Ababa University (AAU, Ethiopia). He has published books and research articles on reputable journals. He is now working as lecturer of Botany in Debre Markos University, Ethiopia. He has a strong interest in environmental education and climate action.