22 May 2024  |   05:21am IST

International Day for Biological Diversity: A call for all to embrace nature’s wonders

World Biodiversity Day, celebrated annually on May 22, is a global observance dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity and the urgent need to protect the variety of life on Earth. This day, established by the United Nations, highlights the critical role biodiversity plays in sustaining the planet’s ecosystems and the myriad services they provide, from clean air and water to fertile soils and pollination of crops. As we face unprecedented challenges from climate change, habitat destruction, and species extinction, World Biodiversity Day serves as a reminder of one’s collective responsibility to preserve and restore nature for future generations
International Day for Biological Diversity:  A call for all to embrace nature’s wonders

Frazer Andrade

The biological diversity of a place has been generally understood in terms of its wide variety of animals, plants and microbes. However, it also includes genetic differences within each of the species. Between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock and different types of ecosystems (lakes, forest, deserts, agricultural landscapes) that host various kinds of interactions among their members which include humans, plants and animals. Civilizations have come to have been built upon the biological diversity of a place, thus one can confidently say that biological resources are the pillars upon which civilizations have been built. Fish provide 20 per cent of animal protein to about 3 billion people across the globe. Over 80 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants alone.

As many as 80 percent of people living in rural regions in developing countries are wholly dependent on traditional plant-based medicines for basic healthcare. Hence, the loss of biodiversity threatens everyone, including one’s health. It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expand due to diseases which can be transmitted to humans from animals. While there is a growing recognition of the fact that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to the generations to come, the number of species is being significantly reduced by several human activities. Given the importance of public education and awareness about this issue, the UN decided to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity annually.

The United Nations has announced May 22 as The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) so as to increase understanding and awareness on biodiversity issues among citizens.

“One of the main reasons for animal displacement and human-animal conflicts around the country has been merciless tree cutting, due to unplanned development, which results in wiping off of flora and fauna even before it has been discovered,” says Celio Masarenhas, an artist and wildlife enthusiast hailing from Chandor. Further, he mentions that this is actually the root cause for wildlife making their way into human settlements, for absolutely no faults of theirs.

Biodiversity conservation is the need of the hour and involves the protection and management of biodiversity to obtain resources for sustainable development. Biodiversity conservation revolves around three primary objectives i.e. preservation of the diversity of species, sustainable utilization of species and the ecosystems and maintaining life-supporting systems and essential ecological processes. It can be conserved by adopting both, In-situ Conservation processes or Ex-situ Conservation processes. In-situ conservation involves the conservation of species within their natural habitat without displacing any of them from it. In this method, their natural ecosystem is maintained and protected.

This process has several advantages. It is a cost-effective and convenient method of conserving the biodiversity of a given area, a large number of living organisms can be conserved simultaneously and since the organisms are in their natural ecosystem, they can evolve better and can easily adjust to different environmental conditions. Examples of protected areas where in-situ conservation is practiced include national parks, wild life sanctuaries and biosphere reserves.

Ex-situ conservation of biodiversity involves the breeding and maintenance of endangered species in artificial ecosystems such as zoos, nurseries, botanical gardens, gene banks, etc. away from their natural habitats. There is less competition for food, water and space among the organisms being protected. Ex-situ conservation also has its own advantages. The animals are provided with a longer time duration for treatment and breeding activity, the species bred in captivity can be reintroduced in the wild and genetic techniques can be adopted for the preservation of endangered species.

It is believed that the higher the species abundance of a given area the more stable its environment is when compared to an area with lower species abundance. One can further claim the necessity of biodiversity by considering one’s degree of dependency on the environment. People depend directly on various species of plants for their various needs. Similarly, one may depend on various species of animals and microbes for numerous reasons.

Biodiversity is being lost due to habitat loss, over-exploitation of resources, climatic changes, pollution, invasive exotic species, diseases, hunting, etc.

E O Wilson, an American biologist and naturalist says, “Look closely at nature every species is a masterpiece exquisitely adapted to the particular environment in which it has survived. Who are we to destroy or even diminish biodiversity?" “Humans often forget that they share this world with many other species and behave irresponsibly by altering the environment and habitats in irreversible ways thus directly impacting the survival of other species causing a great loss to biodiversity not realizing that ultimately, they will be the losers too,” says Rolita Pires, a biology professor at Rosary Higher Secondary school, Navelim. 

Further, she states that over the years she has seen local water bodies diminishing, ultimately leading to a great loss of local varieties of fish that were once very common in her childhood, not found today. Introduction of culturable varieties of fish has led to the extinction of the local varieties.

“Living on the shores of the Arabian Sea, I have seen the sand dunes disappearing for developmental works, thus causing a huge loss of the dune biodiversity. Tons of plastic garbage making its way to the sea along with the oil spillages is polluting the pristine oceans and also the shoreline”, she adds.

“Along with the diverse species of Goa our home too is threatened, and it is we who need to take measures to save it. In Goa one of the biggest problems that the youth are faced with is the problem of unemployment.  If the youth of today use the God given resources to our small state in a sustainable manner by way of eco-tourism, agriculture-based entrepreneurship etc. they can achieve dual objectives of conservation and employment” says Rolita.

Further she mentions, “As a biology teacher, I find it difficult to explain to students about the unique biological diversity that exists, because children today do not play out in the open and do not interact with nature and all the joys it has to offer. Teachers have to use digital content to show them common species which are easily seen in the vicinity. I would urge parents to make it a point to encourage children to play out in the fields amidst the greens, take their children on small nature trails and appreciate nature. Once the children fall in love with nature, we will not have to enforce protection of habitats; it will come to them naturally.”

“Nature’s biological library is burning. We are already experiencing the impact of biodiversity degradation. When you conserve nature, you conserve life,” says Loveleen Pereira, a biology teacher at the Infant Jesus Higher Secondary School, Colva, further stating that the Earth provides enough for one’s need but not for one’s greed.


Iddhar Udhar