What Are the Causes and Consequences of Biodiversity Loss?
Life is resilient. After a hurricane has barreled through, uprooting trees, relocating entire microecosystems and lifting sections of beach sand only to drop them in the midst of tropical wetlands… after this destruction, in the eerie calm that follows, nature is rushing in to fill the void. Opportunistic species: plants, insects, microorganisms, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and migrating birds, help to rebuild an ecosystem, a bit different but still strikingly similar.
It is a well observed fact that in the wake of a wildfire, new species spring to life. In this case, fire creates new life. Millions of years of evolution creating a wealth of biodiverse life which allows our planet to regenerate when given the chance. However, with the recent events taking place and our influence growing beyond anything our planet has ever experienced we need to ask.
How much biodiversity can we lose and still be able to rely on the earth’s magnificent power to heal itself? How much biodiversity can we lose and still count on the earth to provide us with breathable air, clean water and food?
The world population is fast approaching nine billion people, nine billion consumers… not only consuming the water and food that Earth supplies, but consuming copious quantities of material goods. Their production and disposal defiles the air and water and renders much of our soil infertile.
Major causes of biodiversity loss and their direct consequences
Biodiversity is the richness of variety of life in an area. While there is still much that we do not know about life itself and this beautiful and mysterious world we live in, we do know that life on earth is interconnected.
For example, we need a variety of insects and microorganisms for plants to grow, and a variety of plants to feed the insects and microorganism. We need plants to purify air, control soil erosion and moderate earth’s climate. We need healthy soil to filter water, provide habitat to microorganisms and to grow plants.
It is good to become familiar with the major causes of biodiversity loss and their consequences that are currently happening. This knowledge could help us become more mindful of how daily life needs affect even distant ecosystems and may transform us into more responsible consumers.
#1 Urban sprawl
We are clearing land and building new homes and businesses as well as infrastructure at an unprecedented rate as our population expands.
As we clear the land, we destroy the habitats of native flora and fauna. Entire ecosystems are eliminated and the populations which have not been exterminated are now segregated from the rest of their species.
Buildings, parking lots, highways and pipelines bisect animal and plant habitats. Even though we know that a large population of any species is stronger than a small, fragmented one due to the advantage that comes with a genetic diversity of individuals and the very history of evolving to be the strongest in its native habitat. In their environment, species have developed symbiotic relationships with the other life surrounding it.
Once segregated, a smaller population is more vulnerable to outside pressures like pests, diseases, predators, and weather changes. Accordingly, a smaller population is at an increased risk of extinction.
Urban expansion has meant, in many cases, the felling of virgin forests and the destruction of ecosystems with special functions like, for example, mangrove swamps and coral reefs. In addition to providing habitat for a variety of life, these are natural barriers buffering the land from strong winds and tidal surges.
With the destruction of these protective land buffers, we have lost the most effective barriers and changed the dynamics, exposing the adjacent terrestrial ecosystems to damage that would not occur if it were not for our impact. What is more, this way we are actually involuntarily increasing the vulnerability of our infrastructure to damage caused by natural events as well.
As the name suggests, urban sprawl changes everything. Cities are mainly built without the thought of preserving local biodiversity, firstly they must conform with the economic and practical requirements we have in mind when building them. See our article to learn more about the full scale of the numerous environmental problems that come along with urbanization.
Further reading: Environmental Problems of Urbanization
#2 Unsustainable agricultural techniques
The tale of modern, industrial agriculture is a sad one. The transformation started out benignly enough, with the goal of increasing food production and reducing losses. But it has unfolded into a story of creating a widespread cultural belief that diverse chemical substances and land exploitation are the most efficient way to grow food we eat.
Industrial agriculture is dominated by harmful practices for local biodiversity.
These involve methods like:
- clearing as much land as possible, which equates to habitat loss and release of carbon into the atmosphere,
- compaction of soil by heavy machinery,
- air pollution from diesel fuel,
- tilling the soil which means loss of fertility as it tears apart the webs of fungus which make the soil fertile,
- planting a single crop variety, contributing to loss of genetic diversity and loss of biodiversity in the microecosystem,
- spraying chemical fertilizers which pollute the water table and nearby streams,
- spraying herbicides to suppress weeds and pesticides with fungicides to kill pests and diseases.
Agricultural chemicals are toxic to birds, bees and pollinators. They are often also carcinogenic for us. Many of our staple crops are sprayed regularly throughout the growing season. Some crops, such as cotton, are even sprayed later in the season with a defoliant to simplify harvesting.
The truth is that these toxins and unsustainable practices applied heavily to crops have resulted in rendering the soil infertile, polluting water supplies and killing aquatic life from the runoff, as well as introducing huge quantities of carcinogens into our food and drinking water, while decreasing nutritional value of crops.
This intensive way of farming when lands are exploited to grow only high yielding varieties of crops, leave behind degraded lands that slowly fail to support any life whatsoever. So, it has become a common practice to grab more and more land, eradicating biodiversity and destroying living organisms.
The concerning developments in the Amazon rainforest, where cattle farmers make their way into the most biodiverse ecosystem on earth and slash and burn the rainforest to graze their cattle for a few seasons, are well-known to many of us. Similarly concerning are ever-expanding oil palm plantations replacing tropical forests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. These are among the most extreme examples which lead to total disappearance of biodiverse ecosystems and endanger native species like poor orangutans.
Wild animals and insects have evolved to feed on other native flora and fauna. But where just one strain of crop is suddenly planted a limited variety of native life can be supported.
For example: a palm oil plantation is a silent, sterile place compared to the original tropical forests which surround them. Imagine lush forests with their buzzing, squealing and chirping sounds of animals and the rich diversity of life, providing home to so many species.
But then one strong insect or disease that feeds on oil palm crop appears in the monoculture field and has no predators. This strong species meets with no resistance at all. It only has an abundance of feed, wreaking a havoc on the crop. So, naturally, farmers reach for the drastic measures and the next round of pesticides developed to resist the enemy will likely be even more harsh to nature, discouraging even more the return of any life to the acclaimed piece of land.
A lot more could be written under the direct or indirect effects of unsustainable agriculture to biodiversity destruction. You can find detailed listing of these problems under the Disadvantages of Monoculture Farming in our related article.
Further reading: Pros and Cons of Monoculture Farming
Deforestation causes a cascade of problems. They range from desertification to population displacement, cultural loss, species extinction and climate warming.
Forests, especially tropical forests, act as carbon sinks, absorbing greenhouse emissions caused by most of our activities. Sadly, we see in recent years this mechanism reversing due to the destruction of these complex ecosystems. Only the Congo rainforest, one of the world’s three largest tropical rainforests, has enough standing forest to still act as a strong carbon sink.
The mighty Amazon rainforest is still a net carbon sink, but is right now on the verge of becoming a source of extra carbon emissions as forest clearing continues to make place for cattle pastures and uncontrollable wildfires spread over swaths of the last forested lands .
We can see this phenomenon taking place already in other places. Over the past 20 years, the forests in Southeast Asia have become a net source of carbon emissions because virgin forests had been removed for timber and oil palm plantations. This unfortunate development only adds up to the problem of our rising carbon emissions and further contributes to global climate crisis.
Scaling down a little and looking at localized impacts of deforestation on biodiversity, the first negative effect which takes place as soon as trees are removed from their stand is habitat fragmentation. Species become vulnerable when their native habitat is split into fragments, intersected by logging routes and clear cuts. They lose optimal conditions in which they thrive. For plants this means the right level of shading, humidity, temperature and nutrient availability. For animals it is their shelter, food sources (like those plants which are affected by the change of their environment) and mating possibilities.
For some less adaptable species, even a small difference in their habitat like the loss of their home becomes too big stress to handle and just the exposure to such a stress contributes to their decline.
Read more: How Does Deforestation Affect Animals?
#4 Overexploitation of natural resources and other living organisms
In years past, it seemed that the earth’s natural resources were illimitable and riches were up for grabs to those who could exploit them for profit. Timbering, mining, quarrying, drilling for oil and gas, trapping, game hunting and fishing reflected the vision that the earth is a department store of goods for our free use.
Since then we have come to realize that these resources are in fact limited. We have learned the hard way that the toxic byproducts of extraction and refining are degrading the environment, that burning fossil fuels is searing the skies and acidifying oceans, that petroleum byproducts like plastic have created a nightmare of waste clogging waterways and choking animals, that overhunting is leading to species extinction and that our fishing techniques are not only unsustainable, but needlessly wreaking havoc on marine life.
As the world population has burgeoned and incomes increase, a better quality of life has become associated with ease and the accumulation of material goods. Naturally, advertising has nurtured these desires.
It is time for businesses and advertising to reflect the new paradigm: the realization that life processes are interconnected and if we wish to continue living to our liking, the goods and services we procure must be sustainably gathered and distributed and must be made with the goal of zero waste in mind.
I. Exotic animal and plant trade
Exotic animal and plant trade are unnecessary and dangerous. It is an exercise in not recognizing that we and other living organisms are in this together. We have got only one planet.
Examples abound. The Burmese python which escaped from a pet store during a hurricane in Florida have consumed 90 percent (!) of the small mammals in the Everglades. The python population continues to increase and cause problems.
Lionfish, native to the South Pacific and India’s Oceans, have been released from home aquariums and can now be found in coral reef systems in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They are aggressive predators with no enemy of their own. In the new environment, these fish reproduce at accelerated speed, and they threaten the coral reef populations of other fish that depend upon these vital nurseries .
Many stories of the most pervasive and uncontrollable introductions of invasive plants are the same like the animal incidents listed previously. They are stories of policy guffaws where a species was introduced as a biological control of another species whose population had burgeoned unchecked and was causing ecosystem devastation.
These cautionary tales have educated policy makers to perform more complete environmental impact evaluations before new species introductions. But the trade of exotic plants is another category altogether.
Plant trade has been romanticized in stories of adventurers, bringing back exotic plants to show those less well-traveled. It has been admired in horticulturalists determined to showcase astonishing botanical gardens. Relocating plants could be harmless if the plant growth was controlled, but once the plants are put in the ground, which is often the case, the damage of invasive species becomes unstoppable.
An example is bamboo, popular as a fast-growing screen hedge. Expect to see those neighbors you were hoping to screen at your door and enraged pretty soon. Bamboo can grow twelve inches a day and sends out underground shoots twenty feet distant, which means into their yards. What’s more, it will crowd out native vegetation .
The crowding out of native vegetation does not only mean the loss of goodwill of your neighbors, but the loss of insects, microorganisms, amphibians, birds and animals that depend upon the native vegetation.
Many mammal species are under threat of extinction from overhunting .
Animals are hunted for food, for perceived medicinal balms and as trophies. Game-hunting expeditions, glamorized and highly sought-after experiences, are little more than displays of male prowess that typically targets large predator species.
When these species disappear, the populations of their former prey animals explode, throwing nature out of balance, creating adverse consequences for vegetation and other animals. Another problem is the killing of the strongest animal which is usually very important for the rest of the population in terms of dominance, life experience and carries strong and healthy genes which can give rise to healthy offspring. With the sudden disappearance of such animal, these valuable characteristics are lost from the population, shrinking their chances for survival.
Even though, it may be hard to see at first, unsustainable hunting of wildlife greatly affects food security and economic livelihoods of local people as well. Iconic species for a given area are more valuable for locals when alive. Their value is long-term and split among many people when different forms of sustainable tourism benefit from the natural diversity of life. Trophy hunting, on contrary, provides benefit only to a limited number of individuals, who rarely use the profit for conservation activities to make up for the hunted animals, neither contribute to local economy.
It is important to say that unregulated hunting is increasingly causing the transmission of dangerous zoonotic diseases when hunters increasingly come into close contact with wild exotic animals that may carry viruses native to them in their wild environment but new to people who are now handling them and transport them to new locations.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has reported that over one third of the fish stocks around the world are being overfished . Fish populations are out of balance, some populations are sick and weak because of our intervention when trying to actually supply more, like in case of Atlantic salmon, and some seas in the world have too destroyed ecosystems from inconsiderate fishing techniques that they cannot support fish life for our commercial fishing purposes.
As our global population is growing, the demand for seafood is increasing as well. In some countries, seafood is the main source of protein. Across the world, 3.3 billion people obtain 20 percent of their animal protein from fish and seafood, according to the recent FAO’s statistics.
At the same time, the number of fish which can be caught sustainably without depleting their stocks is dropping due to warming oceans and globally spreading pollution. Food waste is contributing to the problem as well. The FAO report states that up to 35 percent of fish products go to waste or are simply lost during the processing. This is a very number considering we already talk about diminishing resource.
This creates situation that cannot have good ending. Unless we change our ways of managing the ocean health, our path will lead to the catastrophic outcome when it comes to easily obtaining seafood and preserving biodiversity of marine ecosystems.
Further reading: A Deeper Look into Overfishing
Transportation accounted for 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally in 2016 , and 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2019 . But transportation is just one component of the ecological footprint of tourism.
The other factors that need to be taken into account are the nature of the accommodations. This includes things like the widespread use of single use disposable items, increased production of waste, food waste along the way, water consumption, disturbance of wildlife and trampling of vegetation along the main attractions and transformation of free land into parking lots or places for entertainment. The impact on the destination environment and native culture adds to the equation when places get overly crowded during the high season.
A modern buzz word in the tourism industry is ecotourism. At its best, ecotourism means vacationing with a light impact on the environment. At its worst, ecotourism is a bald marketing ploy to attract the progressively conscientious travelers, while in fact it still adversely impacts the surrounding environment. Who wouldn’t like to travel to an exotic location to relax with all the amenities of the modern world at their disposal: comfortable beds, spa treatments, culinary extravaganzas and partaking of unusual adventures, often ostensibly nature-focused?
When traveling, do your homework. Stay in zero-waste hotels with the LEEDS building certification or the Green Seal Environmental Standard for Lodging Properties. Zero waste status is defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as: diverting 90 percent of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators. Look for farm-to-table culinary experiences.
What about tourism that does not advertise itself as “eco?”
America’s national parks, designed to preserve land in its natural state for the benefit of its citizens are overcrowded during summer months. The most popular parks with long lines of traffic. Visitors drive fuel-guzzling recreational vehicles equipped with refrigerators, stoves, televisions and air conditioners.
Many don’t even notice that when they leave the trail, they are trampling endangered plants. Hunting expeditions offer the opportunity to kill a large trophy animal of a perilously declining population.
Cruise ships plow through international waters where regulations such as those that govern wastewater discharge are impossible to monitor. What is known apart from those incidences when cruise lines are penalized for violations, is that a cruise ship burns vast quantities of dirty fuel, spewing carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulfur into the air the whole time.
The anti-fouling hull paint can shed toxic heavy metals into the ocean. And what about the engine noise? If you’ve ever swum underwater in a lake where recreational boats are allowed, you know how annoying and disruptive the sound of a boat engine or jet ski is.
Ship traffic noise permeates the oceans now. Before it did, consider that the call of a fin whale could be heard 4,000 miles away passing through the deep sound channel. It is also conjectured that the sonar transmission equipment used on ships confuses marine animals who rely on echolocation, interfering with their mating and feeding.
The onus is on us as travelers in these situations. We need to be mindful of our carbon footprint as it ultimately impacts the biodiversity.
Further reading: Environmental Impacts of Tourism
#6 Population expansion
The current world population is nearly 7.9 billion . Two hundred years ago it was just one billion .
This dramatic growth of population has accompanied a broad societal change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one of industrial manufacturing .
Self-sufficiency is no longer necessary as people relocated to urban centers for employment and even where workers labored in mines and rural areas, commerce increased the availability of goods so that people could devote themselves to one vocation and simply procure food and goods from a store.
These changes had the effect of removing a good percentage of the population from a personal understanding of the origin of the goods and services they procure.
This cultural shift from living in harmony with nature to a world offering a bounty of consumer goods for those willing to devote their lives to making money created the niche for capitalism to trump respect for the earth. Along with this shift came also widespread destruction of natural habitats and fragmentation of populations of native species. Only in recent years, we start to see how much damage this lifestyle change has caused.
#7 Unsustainable water management
Water aquifers have a limited amount of water at any given time and rely upon rains for replenishment. When we draw more water than there is naturally available, the aquifers run dry.
Many manufacturing practices and industry sectors, like power plants and metal refining, require large amounts of water. Unfortunately, in many cases, we do not have the technological capacity to filter the heavily toxic byproducts, so the water becomes too polluted for any other use. This water cannot be freely released back into natural environment, which means that it becomes unavailable for aquatic life or plants to benefit from.
Intensive agriculture requires a lot of water and causes biodiversity loss by severely degrading lands in many areas around the globe. For example, lack of water to support farming and desert sands encroaching villages are already causing trouble to rice farmers throughout the regions of northern China. While farmers despair about their inability to cultivate rice fields, local agronomists confirm that it was the water overextraction to create rice paddies that has significantly contributed to the current desert expansion in the area, wiping off native life along with it.
A similarly sad story is that of the Aral Sea. Once one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world has been destroyed by inconsiderate irrigation projects along the rivers which fed the lake. This resulted in the loss of much of the lake water and a total disappearance of the original lake ecosystem with the abundance of fish that would support coastal communities. More details are in our article: The Aral Sea Disaster.
Alternative agricultural practices for sustainable food production must be found if we are to preserve available water resources for drinking. In many desert areas where water supply is already low, people insist on maintaining green yards and growing modern, high-production crop varieties that are not good fit for the given area. It is important to consider this and plant drought-resistant crops and ornamental plants for backyards.
In many parts of the world, conflicts arise where one political subdivision diverts water from another downstream. We need to work together. Water management involves transboundary cooperation and equal allocation of this precious resource to residents.
Additionally, we are currently witnessing alarmingly high temperatures on poles and higher elevations which affect the stability of the permanent ice mass. The world’s biggest glaciers are melting and start to threaten the water supply of hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia in coming years .
These points all bring us to the question…
How big is the human impact on biodiversity?
Half of the world’s habitable land including forests, wetlands and grasslands, has been converted to agriculture since 1970, directly resulting in a 60 percent decline in the number of vertebrates worldwide.
The 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report cites that the average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 percent since 1900 .
Presently, more than 40 percent of amphibian species, nearly 33 percent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Coral reef bleaching has accelerated with rising ocean temperatures and current studies show that 75 percent of reef corals are threatened .
The IPBES finds that one million plant and animal species are currently threatened with imminent extinction to human activities. The background rate of extinction, that is absent of human influence, is considered to be anywhere from one to five species per year.
As these numbers suggest human impact on biodiversity is great and devastating. What makes it even worse is that we are aware of our actions and can predict some of the impacts, but so far have been unable to change our behavior swiftly enough to start reverting or at least making up for the damage.
Sadly, environmental degradation is everywhere around us. While much attention has been focused on the polluting of our oceans and deservedly so, even a casual observation can confirm the pervasive degradation of rivers and lakes.
Rivers and lakes are the most degraded ecosystems in the world . Poorly planned dams, introduction of invasive species for the pleasure of anglers, and pollution have all contributed to an 86 percent loss of freshwater vertebrate species since 1970.
We drive past mining waste, junkyards, power facilities spewing orange pollutants and surrounded by wastewater vats, paved and treeless urban neighborhoods and past slums reeking of human waste. More pastorally, we drive past agricultural fields, but this land too has been substantially degraded by the repeated application of toxic chemicals.
Over 75 percent of earth’s habitable land has been degraded. According to a March 2018 IPBES report on loss of biodiversity, over 95 percent of the world’s land could be substantially degraded by 2050 based on current trends .
92 percent of the world breathes unhealthy air. Cities currently with the worst air pollution include Johannesburg in South Africa, Hotan in China, Lahore in Pakistan, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Santiago in Chile . Where there is unsustainable development and severe pollution, there is biodiversity loss.
Further reading: What Are the Major Threats to Biodiversity?
What is the effect of loss of biodiversity on ecosystems?
Biodiversity is essential for strong and resilient ecosystems.
We need healthy ecosystems to supply fresh, clean air, water and fertile soil.
Healthy ecosystems absorb excess greenhouse gas emissions and moderate our climate to temperatures where life as we know it can flourish.
When ecosystems lose the biggest part of their biodiversity, they become vulnerable to destruction, weak and cannot perform the vital ecosystem services as they would have if they were healthy. Let’s see some examples of already damaged ecosystems and what further implications does that have on life.
Examples of areas severely affected by biodiversity loss
A painful example of severe biodiversity decline is the island of Borneo, the land of tropical rainforests, mangroves and swamps. As noted above, large tropical forests are significant carbon sinks for the planet. We also know that out of the top three forests, those in southeast Asia are no longer absorbing carbon but are actually emitting it due to the damage that has disrupted their ecosystems.
The jungles of Borneo are one of the last frontiers untouched by humans and still hold unique and splendid plants and animal species with incredible adaptations that have evolved over millions of years .
But between1973 and 2015, 50 percent of the forest was lost, much of this to oil palm, rubber and other plantations of highly demanded products. The good news is that both Malaysia and Indonesia’s rate of primary forest loss has been decreasing in the last years.
Another painful example of severe biodiversity decline is Australia’s Great Barrier reef which has lost half of its corals since 1995 and recently experienced its third major bleaching in five years. Last time the reef suffered similar bleaching event happened in the season of 2016 and 2017. Two thirds of the reef were damaged that time and have been slowly recovering until now . The loss of coral reefs, nurseries to much of marine life and providing much-needed oxygen to fish translates to depleted fish stocks globally.
Overfishing is already pushing many species toward extinction. The loss of coral reefs is further contributing to a serious problem. Coral reefs are a coastline buffer from natural disasters like monsoons and tidal waves, phenomena which threaten even coastal life.
The unique biodiversity hotspots as the last isles of species rich ecosystems
A “biodiversity hotspot” is a place that is rich in plant and animal life which is in imminent danger of being lost.
The collapse of biodiversity hotspots could mean the collapse of earth’s life processes and right now we still have a chance at saving them.
One such hotspot is the tropical and humid Guinean Forests of West Africa. 9,000 species of vascular plants grow in the hotspot, including 1,800 species unique to the area. The hotspot is also home to 416 mammal species, nearly a quarter of the mammals native to continental Africa, and 917 bird species, 107 reptile species and 269 amphibian species. These include five Critically Endangered Species and 21 Endangered species, like the Pygmy hippopotamus and the Diana monkey.
Unfortunately, this area is also heavily affected by numerous threats to biodiversity, such as:
- wildlife trade
- oil and gas extraction
- pollution from agricultural runoff
- sea level rise from climate change
These are serious and large-scale damaging activities that are hard to control. This is just one example of a hotspot with the problems it has to resist out of 36 across our planet, all of which represent endangered ecosystems of unique natural beauty and significance for life.
You can read more about biodiversity hotspots in our article focused specifically on this topic.
What are some of the best solutions to prevent loss of biodiversity?
We need to be more aware of the consequences of our actions. Consumer choices govern the market and hence the production pathways of items we rely on in daily lives.
One of the largest drivers of biodiversity loss is expansion for agriculture. Intensive agriculture does not focus just on food but also products we use elsewhere, like palm oil contained in lipsticks and detergents, or ethanol from rapeseed as a biofuel.
As consumers, we should demand labeling that shows all ingredients clearly, not hiding ingredients like palm oil under the name “vegetable oil.”
The next thing that is important to know are the certifications that indicate sustainable environmental practices including fair trade, sustainable fishing practices, and zero waste accountability. Look for those when deciding which product to buy. However, keep in mind that not all certifications truly represent the practices they claim to prove. Check their reliability and stick only to the ones from verified sources like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International and other.
We should make our purchases and plan our activities based upon environmentally-friendly and ethical practices of providers. This behavior will dictate what businesses survive.
We should transition food sources to the greatest extent possible, integrating community gardens into urban areas and buying from local organic farmers where possible. Where mass production of food is essential, then alternatives to current practices should be explored and implemented, like Norway’s hydroponic vertical farming .
We need to steer away from fossil fuel use, from using quickly disposable items and from over-consumption in general. We need to embrace the ethic that less is more because when it comes to preserving the integrity of earth, that is fact.
We should push for legislation protecting the oceans from overfishing.
Contribute time or money to conservation groups fighting to protect the loss of biodiversity. Spread the word. Volunteer to youth organizations and teach the importance of reducing pollution and promoting biodiversity. Then walk your talk.
Further reading: Why Is It Important to Conserve Biodiversity?
 See Dancing with the Birds, a Netflix original documentary, 2019.