Rediscovering Our Connection with Biodiversity
Author: Shikhita Gupta
The year 2020 has taught us that the adversity we face, guides us to rediscover the resilience to respond which has the power to shape not just our lives but this entire planet. Today, 22 May is proclaimed by the United Nations as The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. This year the theme is ‘We’re part of the solution’. The slogan was chosen to continue the last year’s momentum under the over-arching theme, “Our solutions are in nature”, which reminded us that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges.
What is Biodiversity?
The term biodiversity describes the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. It describes the enormous variety of life on Earth . Each of these species and organisms works together in our ecosystems, like an intricate web working non-stop to maintain balance and support life.
Why do we need Biodiversity?
Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive. It offers food (harvests, silviculture, livestock, and fish) and medicine. A very large number of plant species are used for medicinal purposes (quinine, extracted from the cinchona tree to fight malaria). Furthermore, biodiversity has a remarkable role in the textile fibers manufacturing industry, wood for building, and the production of energy. Many industrial products are obtained thanks to biodiversity: lubricants, perfumes, paper, waxes, and rubber, are all obtained from plants; and there are also products of animal origin such as wool, silk, leather, hides, etc . Not just that but biodiversity serves as the major source of richness in the tourism and recreation sector.
Image Source: UNICEF
Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better but as humans put increasing pressure on the planet, using and consuming more resources than ever before humans have upset the balance of ecosystems and have biodiversity. Even the most important biodiversity-rich hubs around the world are no longer immune from human pressures. This added pressure has brought out a serious change in the landscape and has left nature struggling to keep up. But one of the most beautiful things about biodiversity is its resilience. Ease up on the pressure, manage resources well, give it time, and the ecosystem will adapt. Nature and biodiversity will recover. We at Sangam are trying to be “part of the solution” by supporting unique startups that are serving as solutions to conserve biodiversity through acceleration initiatives such as “Land Accelerator” and “Emerging India Acceleration Program 3.0”. Startups that promote land restoration techniques to recover altered ecosystems are a fundamental strategy for biodiversity conservation. Such initiatives actively reverse ecological degradation, help to evaluate human impacts on biological diversity, and make practical approaches accessible to the masses that help in the prevention of species from the extinction of species which maintains the integrity of ecosystems.
Startups practicing regenerative agriculture practices promote soil health that serves as the foundation for conserving soil microbial diversity. Regenerative agriculture practices like No-till reduces soil erosion and encourages water to infiltrate soils (although it can require greater use of herbicides). Cover crops do the same, and can also reduce water pollution. Such practices also reduce the use of pesticides and insecticides and reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses from the Agriculture sector. Startups based on biotechnology help to develop a variety of techniques and applications that allow changes and improvements in living organisms that are not just resilient to pests and unpredictable weather but provide desirable products for man’s use. Biotechnology is the major answer to the challenges of conservation, evaluation, and utilization of biodiversity. It plays an immense role in biodiversity conservation such as the vegetative multiplication of many species, allowing the production of large numbers of plants from small pieces of the stock plant in a relatively short period, and in some cases for recovery of virus-free plants.
The richness of biodiversity is essential for the survival of living beings, therefore its conservation is of utmost importance. We must make conscious efforts to be a part of the solution.
Blog Credits: Shikhita Gupta