Monday, May 2, 2011

What Do You Do to Protect Biodiversity?

Through twitter just reblogged this story from The Earth University , Columbia University. The suggestions are focused on the US....but the part I wanted to speak to was this

"Biodiversity—the variety of all living organisms including ecosystems, plants, animals, their habitats and genes—is fundamental to life on Earth. We need biodiversity for its invaluable ecosystem services, providing oxygen, food, clean water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, a stable climate and recreation. Tragically, today biodiversity is disappearing at 1,000 times the normal rate due to human civilization. Individual species are being obliterated by habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, the spread of pollution and disease, climate change and the over exploitation of resources. And because the human population, which has doubled since 1970, is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the biodiversity crisis will only get worse as more people consume more resources."

There's plenty we can do wherever we are... Im keen to hear from anyone with projects they are involved in to post here... specifically in relation to seeds and biodiversity... so drop me a line or leave a comment if you have something to share!!!!

What You Can Do to Protect Biodiversity – Eco Matters - State of the Planet


fernenland said...

A magazine I was reading in a waiting room this morning offered several simple actions that would contribute hugely: allow lawns to go to seed - just mow paths through them; don't compulsively deadhead or tidy up seedheads on plants, leave them for the birds; and grow hedgerows wherever possible.

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks for leaving these comments for us Fernenland ....
the lawn is a really good one to tackle... and yet how challenging when we've learned to desire a pristine look, think of land as property and its "sale-ability" first and foremost ... one's own patch to control... rather than something that has an impact on the larger habitat in quite profound ways.
Seed heads I can appreicate too... although I wander about what happens when its an invasive species. Do you know much about this?
Hedgerows I need to learn much more about.

You've inspired me to try and do a post on Lawns ... I met the writer of a book on the loss of the Australian backyard where grass, esp in the back yard, was allowed to grow and vegetable gardens, fruit trees chickens were very commonly cultivated... the whole look and feel of that scenario became very rare ... and yet there is a turn around.

Bridget said...

It's so sad what is happening to our Planet. We have a 3 acre smallholding in north-west Ireland where we garden in a natural way, save seeds, use companion planting, leave wild areas whilst growing a lot of our own food. We don't have problems with pests as there are lots of natural predators. It can be done. People just have to wake up...or be woken up!

Sophie Munns said...

Just visited your blog Bridget ... fantastic reading, pics and links... will be back.
People doing exactly what you are doing are contributing so much... and leading the way... sharing know-how and providing inspiration!
The more that spills over into surrounding neighbourhoods the better.
You are a leader essentially ... maybe not asserting that with a capital 'L' ... I'm a huge believer in the notion that many people desire a more switched on way to live... but need to look and learn and get pretty direct encouragement to catch the bug of enthusiasm.

The last 10 years or so have seen a rise in interest in hobbies, in 'doing' ... but often the template is pretty consumer-oriented for the doing... we have become so used to shopping that when we want to "do" more stuff around our homes we often line up in the least eco-friendly stores and "buy " a whole heap of stuff to help us "do"!

So to have people show us how to find, forage, save seeds, propagate... repurpose, make do... all those age old thrifty ways .... the best thing we can do is show people these methods... hold back judgement about what people don't know these days and get on with helping people discover is critical.

I'd love to reblog something with your permission... if possible!


fernenland said...

Re "invasive" species, I know this is not PC but I think we have to rethink our attitude to nature completely. Humans crave stability (probably linked to their fear of death) and conservation has centred around freezing time - returning an environment to the state that it was in at one particular period. But nature is (a) dynamic, and (b) doesn't recognize borders. These are human inventions. The natural balance is constantly changing, but nature works over a far longer timescale than humans find acceptable. The best thing we can do IMHO is to let nature be, as much as possible (I recognize that in many cases this will not be possible) instead of trying to create nature-style theme parks. Here's what happens when things are let be, even on a site that has been heavily contaminated:
Gorse is a hugely invasive species in NZ. It is a real problem for farmers, very difficult to eradicate, should never have been introduced (like many other things that seemed a good idea at the time.) Yet, ironically, it has also been found to provide a valuable nursery space for the regeneration of native plants. Often, invasive plant species also provide new food sources for indigenous life forms. And yes, they crowd out other "indigenous" life forms. That is the way of things - a constantly changing balance that teeters on the edge of imbalance - the effects of which are multiplied exponentially when humans start trying to intervene. I'm not advocating the introduction of new plant, insect or animal life forms into an environment. I think that is best left to nature rather than humans, who have, at best, a very limited understanding of potential impacts. But with very scarce financial resources available and a human population that keeps on mushrooming I suspect our efforts are perhaps best focused on things like seed banks (crucial) and trying to set up as many nature reserves as possible, e.g. supporting organisations like and keeping subsequent intervention to a minimum. On hedgerows, here is one link:

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you Fernenland for such an excellent response.

I read the link on hedgerows first ... then googled hedgerows in Australia because that is something I dont hear commonly spoken of.
Tasmanian Heritage Society had a page on the conservation of hedgerows ... perhaps the similarity of landscape for English immigrants saw this and also rock walls being created.
I recall driving through other places in southern Australia where hedgerows are common ... but its not something I think of here in Queensland which does not go to say that they are not prevalent in a different form.
I did find a very interesting reference on page 133 (via Google Books) in Shephard Krech's Encyclopedia of World Environmental History:A-E ... where Biological Corridors are discussed (in Australia) including plantings like hedgerows, shelterbreaks and windbreaks... Salvatore DiMara closes the chapter with the suggestion that despite controversy on the pros and cons of Biological corridors the importance of them will only grow and need a lot more research.
From a little reading on the newly formed Qld chapter of Biological Diversity there biological corridors are certainly under discussion.

More in another comment box.

rosaria said...

So much to learn here!

Sophie Munns said...

What an excellent article at the Guardian Fernenland ... just one example: Canvey Wick
"Ninety-three hectares of former petrochemical works next to a Morrison's superstore on Canvey Island, Essex, was the first brownfield site in Britain to be protected for its endangered invertebrate species, including the shrill carder bee and emerald damselfly. Abandoned to nature in the 1970s, it was designated a site of special scientific interest in 2005 and now boasts among the greatest biodiversity in western Europe." text: Emine Sinmaz

A very interesting debate you mention ... I certainly appreciate the fact we cant turn back the clock. I agree "Conservation" was for a long time focused solely around trying to stem the tide. Someone spoke at an event I ran last year on this very different idea of nature that you so eloquently describe. In fact there were several speakers that afternoon - they could not have been more diverse in approach and contexts they were coming from. Its interesting how we react when presented with widely differing views... but such opportunities are critically informing of what questions we need to take further.

What I was surprised to come across last year from some who identify strongly with 'eco-values' was a pronounced contempt for plant science and Seed Banks. This prompted more research on my part to examine where this thinking was coming from... and why.
Its seems that, for many, ALL science around plants has been lumped into the same category of extreme distrust that companies (like Monsanto) historically have generated . Having been more or less 'attacked' on various occasions for working in a Seed Lab that was tied up with a Seed Bank of course I became extremely curious about this level of fear around plant science ... it pushed me to look a lot further at what ideas predominate the public imagination around seeds, plants and science ... and why.

The comments I read on this Guardian article are frequently articulate, certainly passionate and extremely wide-ranging F. That for me is symbolic of where we are right now... at a cross roads ... with massively different understandings of nature in all its complexity ... and the ways we humans might renegotiate our relationship with this natural inheritance. It takes persistent engagement to try and understand where were at to avoid simply adopting "a populist view" of those around us.. and I appreciate why many go dig in their backyard rather than try and connect all the dots. Its utterly confounding if not at times plain overwhelming.

Its tremendously important we have public dialogue on all these themes you raise... I'm now going to follow tweets from
Huge thanks Ferneland for coming back with these critical thoughts.

Sophie Munns said...

Quite sobering isn't it Rosaria?

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