All over the world, millions of animals and plant species are currently threatened with extinction. This slow erasure of wildlife is down to nothing other than human activity.
As populations rise, we scramble to convert undeveloped land into housing estates, shopping centres and schools. These establishments cater solely to our own demands, with a disregard for the basic needs of the species that inhabited there before.
Deforestation is a man-made problem that endangers not only the existence of animals but also our own. By removing trees, overhunting and extracting water, we are contributing to monoculture and ultimately the global rise in temperatures. Without biodiversity, our ability to eat, breathe and survive is severely jeopardised.
One way to preserve biodiversity is to get planting. We have all been made readily aware that trees emit oxygen and absorb our carbon dioxide, so a simple solution would be to plant more of them.
As tempting as it may be to grow a giant sequoia in your back garden, you might not have the space. That’s where Ecosia comes in handy. It is a Berlin-based search engine company that uses its profits from placing advertising in users’ searches to plant trees internationally.
One of the goals of the European Union’s biodiversity strategy is to plant 3 billion trees by 2030. While Ecosia’s numbers are nowhere near the billion range, it claims to have planted 122 million trees globally, with 15 million active users.
The company says it does not track its search users. “We don’t store your searches permanently, and don’t create personal profiles of you based on your search history. Nor do we sell your data to advertisers. Moreover, we protect your searches from potential eavesdroppers with a securely encrypted connection.”
Ecosia issues regular reports on how it spends profits and discusses future projects and plans on its blog, site and podcast.
Down below the trees, bees play an important role in maintaining the equilibrium of our planet. They are in rapid decline worldwide because of human interference. Bees, as well as other woodland creatures, face habitat loss because of pesticide usage, drought, air pollution and climate change. Without bees, people would lose their farming jobs, food groups and other plants.
An Irish company, Beebombs, has come up with a way to encourage bee activity. Beebombs are small wildflower seed balls that can be thrown onto patches of land. Once the flowers have sprouted, they should invite bees and other wildlife. One of the handiest things about the product is that you don’t need to have a green thumb. “Once scattered, you don’t need to water or tend your Beebombs,” the instructions say.
Another way to protect our ecosystem is by rewilding. Rewilding is all about handing the reins back over to mother nature.
One notable case occurred in Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
In the 1930s, the park got rid of all of the wolves, which inadvertently led to an uncontrollable rise in cervids (i.e. deer), a lack of foliage, and erosion on its river banks. The park service re-stabilised the park’s ecosystem by reintroducing wolves in the late 1990s.
In Devon, England, wild beavers were successfully brought in – after a five year trial – to inhabit the east of the county. The trial was so successful that there have been reports of possibly bringing in other animals, such as lynx, boar and wolves.
Ireland may not be getting wolves anytime soon, but there are some who are making strides in preserving biodiversity.
Nephin Beg Range in north county Mayo is an 8,000 hectare wilderness area that has been allocated for reforestation, as well as habitat restoration. The motivation behind Nephin Beg is to allow nature’s flow to take over from human intervention so that the environment can thrive.
There has also been a wave of farmers who have converted their farms to nature conservatories, in order to improve and protect our decaying ecosystem.
In an interview about rewilding, farmer and aristocrat Randal Plunkett told the Irish Times: “we are already on the last bus, but if we all got together and acted now and governments followed, then we still have a chance.”
Other ways we can prevent the loss of biodiversity are by recycling correctly, reducing our carbon footprints by driving electric, walking or cycling and by going package and plastic free when doing the weekly shop.
Small changes over time can make a difference – but how much time do we have left?