“the variety of life on Earth”, including “the variety within and between all species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact”¹. The current rate of biodiversity loss is hundreds, or even thousands times higher than the expected natural rate, and is comparable to the five or six mass extinction events in the earth’s history. It is essential for the future that we do what we can to halt this loss and to save the precious life on our planet².
Here are ten ways that you can help conserve biodiversity:
Buy sustainably certified wood products
It is estimated that over 80% of the world’s forests³ have already been destroyed or badly degraded due to the effects of illegal logging and deforestation. By buying sustainably harvested wood, you are helping destroy the illegal logging industry.
Follow the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle
The lower the demand for a particular resource is, the lower the land area which will be degraded producing or obtaining this resource. By reducing your resource consumption, you are doing your bit for the planet⁴.
Buy organic foods
Buying organic helps reduce the impacts of fertilizers and chemicals, which can be extremely harmful to a range of organisms – particularly aquatic species. Lower chemical use translates to healthier ecosystems, and therefore greater biodiversity⁴.
Choose your forms of transport wisely
Take the most environmentally friendly form of transport. This may mean walking or cycling instead of driving, or it may mean car-pooling with your neighbours or friends. Do whatever you can. This will help biodiversity in two ways: it will reduce fossil fuel consumption, which will in turn reduce the harmful impacts of fossil fuel extraction. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change⁴.
In poorer countries, environmental regulations often don’t exist or are badly enforced. Whether you’re returning from an overseas holiday or buying gifts in your local store, be aware of what products are made of. Touristic souvenirs are often made from the by-products of endangered animals, and buying these things will encourage the killing of more of these creatures⁵.
Reduce meat consumption
According to recent studies, meat consumption is one of the most powerful negative forces impacting biodiversity conservation in the modern world. Livestock production usually involves heavy fertilizer and chemical use, land degradation, and the hunting of competitor or ‘pest’ species – think dingos in Australia, which are often shot because they hunt sheep⁶.
Support local conservation efforts
Next time you are wondering what to do with your Saturday afternoon, research and become a part of a local conservation group. Whether you are cleaning up trash from the side of the road, re-establishing coastal sand dunes, or saving critically endangered species, you will be contributing to biodiversity conservation⁷.
Use environmentally friendly cleaning products
Most cleaning products, soaps, and detergents get washed down the drain, and either indirectly or directly end up in aquatic ecosystems. Using non-toxic products will ensure that your actions aren’t resulting in the death of innocent animals downstream⁴.
A large proportion of electricity is generated using either coal or nuclear power plants, which are both extremely damaging to the environment. By either reducing electricity consumption or switching to more sustainable forms of energy – such as solar panels on the roof of your house – you will be doing your bit to save the planet⁴.