Biodiversity refers to the variety of life found on Earth and supports the natural systems that grow our food, clean our air and water, and regulate our climate. Human life cannot exist without it. but around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.
At the recent UN biodiversity conference (COP15) in Montreal, parties agreed on a set of targets to reverse global biodiversity loss by 2030. This includes protecting 30% of the Earth’s surface and reforming subsidies for agriculture and fisheries. Achieving these goals will require coordination between governments and companies.
However, the rate at which legislation and policies take effect is outpaced by the Velocity of biodiversity loss. Here are some of the most effective actions you can take to help reverse biodiversity loss and restore nature now.
The total area of protected land and sea in the United Kingdom raised from 27.6 million hectares in 2017 to 40.6 million hectares in 2022. Much of this area is managed by charities, statutory bodies and local authorities.
These organisations, such as the RSPB and the Wildlife Trust, restore biodiversity by creating new habitats, improving existing ones and ensuring that wilderness areas are connected to forest corridors and reserves to allow species to roam. For example, the Wildlife Trust has reintroduced beavers to fenland in Kent, where wet grassland habitats are now thriving as a result.
Many charities rely on volunteers to carry out administration and marketing, site management or to spread the word about the biodiversity crisis. With the new digital ways of working, people could volunteer from their own home at the right times. Experience is not necessary in most cases, and volunteers often benefit from on-the-job training.
Volunteering can have other benefits as well. Investigate has revealed that spending just two hours in nature each week can benefit health and well-being.
3. Change what you eat
Nobody likes to be lectured on their diet. But unsustainable farming methods, expanding farmland, and our meat-based Western diets threaten biodiversity.
Conversion of natural habitats to agricultural land has resulted in quarter of all remaining endangered mammal species. Investigate it has also shown that agricultural intensification now means that more than half of European bird species are threatened or in decline.
To reverse the loss of biodiversity, we must change both what we eat and how much we consume.
the United Kingdom National Food Strategy and the Food and Land Use Coalition “Better Futures Report” recommend a diet that depends less on meat. The Food and Land Use Commission, for example, suggests that, starting in 2030, a sustainable adult male diet should consist of 14g red meat per day, 29g chicken and other poultry, 250g dairy , 500 g of fruits and vegetables, 50 g of nuts and 75g of soybeans and other legumes.
4. Nature-friendly gardens
Urbanization is increasingly fragmenting natural habitats, and as such, species declines are higher in cities. As cities continue to grow, it will become more important to have multiple approaches to biodiversity conservation.
Our gardens, while generally not spacious enough to support species diversity, can be important habitats in urban settings. Working with our neighbors, we can scale up our gardens by growing flower nets to help insects feed and planting trees for birds to nest in. This will increase biodiversity by creating a mosaic of habitats throughout an entire neighborhood. Wildlife-friendly gardens can create corridors for a wide range of species and improve connectivity, provide refuge or nesting sites, maintain genetic diversity, and increase the abundance of native plants in even the smallest spaces.
A to study in 2009 it found that there were as many as 28.7 million trees, 3.5 million ponds and at least 4.7 million birds’ nests in UK gardens. The number of nesting birds can be increased if we know where trees can be planted for maximum effect. Pollinating flower nets in gardens could also help insects and butterflies feed.
5. Indoor cats and responsible dog owners
Cats are natural predators and allowing your pet to roam freely in the neighborhood means that they, and all other free-roaming domestic cats, could be responsible for the deaths of millions of animals each year. Investigate in Australia revealed that by allowing cats to roam freely, local predation per square kilometer in residential areas is 28 to 52 times higher than feral cat predation rates in natural settings. Cats have caused such devastating impacts on Australian wildlife that cat predation is listed as a key threat to native wildlife within national legislation.
In the UK, cat ownership has increased by an average of 13% each year for the last 40 years, so around 90% of cats in the UK are now pets. Consequently, this has increased the threat to our native wildlife.
There are several ways that we can reduce the impact of domestic cats on biodiversity. Keeping a cat well fed reduces its need to hunt. Another option is to keep them indoors for parts of the day, overnight, or entirely. The impact of domestic cats on Australian wildlife has become so severe that local authorities have introduced statutes and curfews to curb cat predation.
Cats predominantly threaten biodiversity in urban areas. However, interaction between dogs and wildlife occurs more often in rural situations.
The problem here arises mainly as a result of predation and disease transmission. But dog feces and urine fertilize soils with nutrients and can change the type of plants that grow in an area. This has side effects on the structure of a habitat. By picking up dog feces and disposing of it properly, dog owners can reduce nitrogen input to the soil by 57% and phosphorous by 97%.
The best antidote to despair over the state of the natural world is to immerse yourself in it. Try these steps, and hopefully you’ll discover more ways to not only reduce your footprint, but also enjoy a more vibrant local environment.
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