Biodiversity is the combination of all the different forms of life that make up an environment and interact in it. So, let’s dive deeper into what is biodiversity.
What does biodiversity mean?
The word biodiversity means all the variety of the organic world present in a given environment. This diversity manifests itself in multiple levels, both macroscopic and microscopic. Examples of biodiversity can be in landscapes, ecosystems and habitats, or populations, species and genes.
Here’s a little game for you: can you find a grasshopper in this sea of diverse grasses? Not an easy task, because one of the greatest wonders of the natural world is at work here: camouflage.
A native animal that possesses the same range of colors as its host vegetation and continues to live in it is a sign of good health for the entire habitat. In fact, it means that its ecological balance is being preserved and with it the delicate relationships among the different species that inhabit it.
Why is biodiversity important?
The priceless importance of biodiversity lies in its uniqueness. It is currently, in fact, the defining characteristic of the Earth. By virtue of this uniqueness, it has played a key role in shaping the world as we know it today. Indeed, it is because of it that we can have food, oxygen, clean water and fertile soil, hence the foundations of Life, in the quantities and qualities currently available. In fact, biodiversity:
- provides nourishment and healthy, balanced diets for billions of people through its boundless diversity
- stabilizes atmospheric oxygen levels over time, through its life cycles in the oceans and on land
- keeps fresh water clean, through its balancing role in aquatic food chains
- ensures fertile soil, through its invisible but constant underground decompositional action
Biodiversity is also important from another, less material point of view, namely the cultural one. Throughout history it has played various roles, decisive in shaping the evolving identity of men and women.
Indeed, direct and passionate observation of the variety of forms and interactions between the natural and artificial worlds has produced so much science, literature and philosophy, helping us to build better living on this planet over time.
Biodiversity loss – why is it happening?
The causes of biodiversity loss are many and interlinked; however, there are two main causes:
1. Too rapid climate change, which does not allow adequate biological adaptation in the short term
With too rapid climate change we mean an unnatural acceleration of greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, caused directly by the unsustainable model of endless economic growth implemented by the current civilization.
2. The degradation of habitats, destroyed or modified to satisfy lifestyles and economies that are unsustainable in the long run
Habitat degradation caused by excessive expansion of agriculture and industry, on the other hand, means excessive consumption of natural areas, resulting in the loss not only of biodiversity but also of fertile soil, clean groundwater, and so on.
How can I preserve biodiversity?
Fortunately, to date we have new scientific knowledge and practical tools that enable us to implement more effective measures to address biodiversity loss.
In the small of our homes, in addition to adopting less impactful lifestyles, we can build ecological gardens or balconies that serve as refuges for native fauna and flora, for example by planting local trees, shrubs and grasses, mowing the lawn less frequently, or even building insect hotels and bat houses, and so on.
Another avenue is to actively collaborate with scientific projects for nature monitoring and preservation, such as those related to the world of citizen science.
Citizen science is that science done by ordinary people who do not have specific training in the field, but still have the desire and determination necessary to help improve the big picture.
With citizen science, for example, we can use our cell phones to survey biodiversity over time and understand the health of its populations. Applications such as iNaturalist, Merlin, or PlantNet, and, if used well, allow us to monitor various species and obtain quality scientific data in an easy and practical way through our smartphones.
OutBe and biodiversity
OutBe is closely linked to the topic ‘biodiversity,’ its preservation and education towards it being foundational pillars. Through the practical tool of citizen science, we support companies and willing people to get involved, figure out how to be useful in making their own contribution, and take action.
Whether at sea or on land, we in fact have a dense network of scientific, practical and theoretical tools that allow us, for example:
- the direct monitoring of nature, helping to create a larger and more informed network of proactive janitors;
- the restoration or creation of semi-natural environments, such as ponds, hedges or ecological meadows, of which we then facilitate spontaneous naturalization by pollinators, birds, reptiles, amphibians, grasses, shrubs, etc;
- the collection and cataloging of waste in natural areas, accompanied by environmental interpretation of the said polluted places, with a view to perform an even more comprehensive, useful and holistic act in its ultimate goals;
- theoretical and practical training on the world of citizen science and its application tools, with the aim of producing a change in the everyday approaches and behaviors towards biodiversity and its conservation and enhancement.