By Sarah Wanless
With today being International Day for Biodiversity, we thought we’d shed some light on the subject. International Day for Biodiversity is a United Nations sanctioned international day aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of biodiversity and the threats global biodiversity faces in today’s society. Why an International Day dedicated to biodiversity you may ask? Everything we do and are is dependent on biodiversity, and without it human existence would not be possible. Biodiversity, and all the eco-system services it provides, is a global asset and is vital for future generations, and while the recognition of it’s importance is growing there are still a large number of species that are being significantly reduced due to human activities.
So, what is biodiversity? The term “biodiversity” is a combination of the words “biological” and “diversity” that is combined to make one all encompassing word to describe the wide variety of life on earth. Biodiversity includes all biotic (living) factors and ranges from the larger, more obvious things like plants and animals to the smaller things like fungi and micro-organisms.
Every year there is a theme is chosen for the day. The theme is chosen by The Convention on Biological Diversity, which is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” that has been ratified by 196 nations. Since entering into force, the Convention and its strategic objectives have been implemented through a wide range of institutions such as governments, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, indigenous peoples and local communities, the scientific community and individuals alike.
2018 marks 25 years since the inception of International Day for Biodiversity and so this year’s theme is “Celebrating 25 years of Action for Biodiversity”. The 25th anniversary marks a unique opportunity for the aforementioned institutions to highlight their achievements at national and (if applicable) global levels. South Africa has a number of non-governmental organisations, such as BirdLife South Africa, Endangered Wildlife Trust and the World Wildlife Fund (to name but a few) that are orientated around conserving our country’s amazingly vast and unique biodiversity and that have implemented amazing projects. Visit some of the websites below if you would like to see some of the work they do.
If you would like to get involved please go to one of the links below to find out how you can help. Many of these organisations are looking for volunteers to help at events and for people to help spread awareness about the work they do. So, get out there and learn how you can help make a difference this International Day for Biodiversity!
http://www.wwf.org.za/ – World Wildlife Fund
http://www.ewt.org.za/ – Endangered Wildlife Trust
https://www.birdlife.org.za/ – Birdlife South Africa
http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/ – GreenPeace
http://www.trees.co.za/ – Food and Trees for Africa.