We should all get out and enjoy biodiversity
Next Sunday, 22nd May, is International Day for Biological Diversity.
The day is celebrated each year to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
Biodiversity is an umbrella term to cover the great variety of life forms that we share planet Earth with. The term not alone includes such obvious things as plants and animals, it also encompasses microscopic life forms like bacteria and chemical agents like viruses and genes, while, on the other hand, it embraces large living systems or ecosystems like rainforests, reefs and islands.
It all started with the Earth Summit organised by the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro in June of 1992. One of the areas of major concern at that conference was the ongoing loss of biodiversity. The wholesale destruction of the wild places they formerly lived in resulted in the extinction of creatures, the loss of habitats and the diminution of the wealth of the planet's gene pool.
The result of the deliberations in Rio was the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement to try to halt the loss of biodiversity globally. The response by the European Union was the establishment of Natura 2000, a Europe-wide network of nature protection sites.
Today the Natura 2000 network comprises some 26,000 sites and nature conservation areas throughout the territories of the 28 member states of the European Union. On-going development of the network remains the centrepiece of EU policy with regard to nature and biodiversity.
While these actions by the EU and the actions of many concerned countries worldwide, have, no doubt, contributed to slowing the rate of loss of biodiversity, the sad reality is that biodiversity is still in decline with many species facing extinction.
The theme for this year's International Day for Biological Diversity is 'Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods'.
Biodiversity is the foundation for life and for the essential services provided by ecosystems. It therefore underpins peoples' livelihoods and sustainable development in all areas of activity, including economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting the loss of any of the estimated 31,000 species found in Ireland, we are investing in people, their lives and their well-being.
While public events have been organised to celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity we can all get out, celebrate and enjoy biodiversity next Sunday be it in the local park or open woodland, on the beach or in a nature reserve or other wild place.