International Day for Biological Diversity 2020

By ABConservation - Updated on 05/21/2020

Les bienfaits apportés par la biodiversité

All is interconnected.

Today, we have enough hindsight to see the catastrophic consequences of our unsustainable lifestyle. Eric Roston reports in Bloomberg “ Almost half of the new diseases that jumped from animals to humans […] after 1940 can be traced to changes in land use, agriculture, or wildlife hunting. By disrupting the proper functioning of ecosystems and reducing biodiversity, we are actually endangering ourselves. 

All is interconnected. What affects one, affects all.

Each species, whether animal, plant, fungus or bacterium, makes up biodiversity and has a role to play. They are also dependent and connected to all other species. If one of them, fulfilling a defined function, disappears, it creates a chain reaction which ultimately harms the entire ecosystem. What affects one, affects all. This is the first law of ecology according to Barry Commoner.

 

One example that demonstrates this is what occurred at Yellowstone National Park before and after the reintroduction of wolves. In 1920, wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone. In their absence, the entire ecosystem was modified: deer proliferated, they devoured vegetation, and stream banks collapsed, because they were no longer retained by the roots. With the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, a decrease in the deer population was observed. Thus, the pressure on vegetation dropped, trees quintupled in size, inviting animal species such as birds to come and settle there. The development of the root system of vegetation helped stabilize the banks and streams. And all this in just 6 years.

Nature has made everything work in harmony.
With billions of years to build itself, nature has made everything work in harmony. Natural disturbances (fire, storm, floods ...) can alter ecosystems, but as they are temporary, balance can be restored. Some of them have a function, for example forest fires, without which certain plants (giant sequoia trees, cork oaks, rock cistus, etc.)
“ Almost half of the new diseases that jumped from animals to humans […] after 1940 can be traced to changes in land use, agriculture, or wildlife hunting."

But if natural disturbances can have beneficial effects, this is not the case with human disturbance (pollution of water, air and soil, deforestation, overfishing, introduction of exotic species…) which can have long term consequences over extensive areas.

Today, we have enough hindsight to see the catastrophic consequences of our unsustainable lifestyle. Eric Roston reports in Bloomberg “ Almost half of the new diseases that jumped from animals to humans […] after 1940 can be traced to changes in land use, agriculture, or wildlife hunting. SARS, Ebola, West Nile, Lyme, MERS, and others all fit the profile." It could be also the case of Covid-19.

 

What is the link? The need for space! Certain crops such as soybean (used for soya meal to feed European livestock in intensive farming) or oil palms (used in our cosmetics, our food and biofuels) which are in high global demand, require a lot of space for a higher yield. Forests are therefore cut down, animals are killed or caught and sold on markets. The remaining animals find less and less food, move closer to the cities, to feed on leftovers thrown out by residents (landfills, bins, etc.). All of this contributes to a higher risk of zoonotic disease emergence.

By reducing biodiversity, we are actually endangering ourselves.
In the end, by disrupting the proper functioning of ecosystems and reducing biodiversity, we are actually endangering ourselves, because our survival depends on this biodiversity. Phytoplankton provides us with oxygen, peatlands filter our water, various species participate in pollination of what will become our food, mangroves protect our coasts from extreme weather events, forests regulate the climate and maintain fragile soils, binturongs disseminate seeds of fruit trees, which are a source of food for other animals. If we no longer had pollinators, we would have to forget about the majority of fruits, chocolate and coffee. If we no longer had bats, there would be a lot more mosquitoes and therefore a potential increase in malaria cases. It is therefore biodiversity as a whole that we must protect, from the tiniest species to the largest! Each species has its role to play and ours is to respect and protect this biodiversity, which is essential, because what affects one, affects all!

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