Biodiversity: From apples to zebras, we’re finding new ways to protect our planet’s billions of life-forms
Can you look out of a window? How many kinds of living things you can see?
A bird? Grass? Maybe flowers or trees? So how many in all?
But did you know there are at least 1.7 million types – or species – of creature and plant in the world? If you add in microscopic bugs, there may be billions!
This variety is called biodiversity. There’s been a lot of talk about it this month because it was International Biodiversity Day. There’s bad news, but also good news.
The bad news is species are disappearing. It’s happening because of the way people are using up more and more of planet Earth. For example, people cut down forests for wood or to create farms, and lots creatures and plants lose their home.
Losing species could hurt people later – it messes up Nature and that could make it harder to grow food, or spread diseases. The good news is that more and more people know what’s going on and are doing something about it. And we can all do our bit!
Big problems, little me…
Losing biodiversity is a huge thing – a bit like global warming. (They are linked because one reason species are in trouble is because the climate is changing.)
And huge things can make us feel small – maybe feel there’s nothing we can do. But actually there is.
Some big problems need big solutions. And governments around the world are making more laws to protect wildlife.
For example, the European Union announced new laws to stop people interfering with Nature in a third of its land and sea within 10 years – creating massive “wildlife reserves”.
Protect the planet
One big problem could also help us find solutions. Can you think of a problem we’re all aware of right now?
That’s right. Corona virus, or COVID-19. It’s made billions of people stay at home to avoid getting sick.
What’s that got to do with biodiversity, you ask. Well, do you remember Jane Goodall, the famous scientist? She said bugs like COVID come from animals. And we’re get new bugs more often because of harming biodiversity.
Here’s something positive, though: The virus has made many more people realise how important it is to look after Nature.
Answers on a plate
In our own little environment at home, we might be able to plant flowers that bees and other insects like or stop killing “weeds” that can also be useful. There are also ways to get involved in planting trees near where you live.
But one of the biggest ways everyone plays a part is in what we eat.
Children in the French town of Mouans-Sartoux say they help Nature every day at lunch.
That’s because their town grows most of its own food for schools. And it’s all organic – they don’t use chemicals to kill bugs or help plants grow.
How would you like to eat mostly things grown very close to your home? Kids in Mouans-Sartoux get to see how their vegetables are growing. They love the taste of food picked fresh the same day.
Organic food can cost more. But the schools in Mouans-Sartoux have managed to provide it for the same price as before.
Simple – stop wasting it!
About a third of all the food we produce in the world is wasted. In Mouans-Sartoux, they worked out how to make just enough each day and give each child just as much food as they want, but no more.
Does it give you ideas for ways to help planet Earth? Do let us know!
Wildlife and plants are disappearing as people damage Nature to get food; we’re finding out that it’s hurting us too.
Stop and repair the damage! There are lots of ways to do it but one big thing we can all do is eat food that does less harm.
Check out this beautiful, rich and child-friendly set of resources, including cartoon videos, at bebiodiversity.be. It’s put together (in English, French and Dutch) by the Belgian government.
Lots of facts and resources here from the WWF.
This from National Geographic puts extinctions in the big picture context.
Try this commentary on the lessons from COVID, from the National Geographic Society’s explorer-in-residence Enric Sala.
We really enjoyed finding out about local organic food in the school canteens of the town of Mouans-Sartoux. This short video shows schools around Europe operating similar projects, there is more on this website.