ByN Munal Meitei
Updated 23 May 2022, 4:44 pm
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors but we borrow it from our children.”
The International Biodiversity Day is observed on May 22 every year to increase understanding and awareness of our biodiversity issues. This day also advocates the people for harmony between humankind and nature and reducing biodiversity loss. The theme for this year’s Biodiversity Day is 'Building a shared future for all life'. As the global community is called to re-examine our relationship to the natural world, it is certain that despite all our technological advances, we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our survival. The theme also conveys the message of biodiversity being the future foundation and is the answer to all our environmental issues.
With this celebration, we are reminded to use the existing scientific and traditional knowledge to conserve, sustainably use and ensure equitable access and benefits associated with our biodiversity. We also have a unique opportunity to make biodiversity and nature a priority for all. Together, we can galvanize action and awareness on the political impetus to nature for people, prosperity and for the planet.
Biodiversity encompasses all living beings on earth. It is the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and the terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems of which they are a part.
Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Over 80 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants. As many as 80 per cent of people living beings in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for basic healthcare. But loss of biodiversity threatens all existences. It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expand zoonoses while, on the other hand, if we keep biodiversity intact, it offers excellent tools to fight against pandemics like COVID-19 etc.
While there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to future generations, the number of species is being significantly reduced by various human activities. Biodiversity provides building blocks for sustainable livelihood. It recognises that a country's biodiversity is the sovereign property of its people.
In spite of the importance given to biodiversity conservation, genetic erosion continues globally. Twelve per cent of birds, 21 per cent of mammals, 30 per cent of amphibians, 27 per cent of coral reefs and 35 per cent of conifers and cycads face extinction. According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), over 47,677 species may soon disappear.
Biodiversity loss is predominantly related to habitat destruction. To reverse the paradigm and enlist development as an effective instrument for conserving biodiversity is a big question for reinforcing.
Biodiversity is a common good, an invaluable legacy formed over the course of millions of years and capital to transmit to future generations. To support 787 crore global population, the mother earth is over exhausted. To meet our demand, mankind will require two earths by 2030. The rate of biodiversity loss from the earth is about three species per hour and about 150 species per day. A species once lost is the loss forever and when a species is lost, it affects another species.
Forests are the integral part of global sustainable development. The loss of forest is about the size of a football ground per minute with about 15 billion trees per year. But a fully grown up tree can produced oxygen for 10 persons in a year. Forest and forest soil contain 80 per cent, that is one trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount found in the atmosphere and deforestation emit about 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon per year into the atmosphere. Hence, the conservation of forests offers important opportunities to protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change.
Biodiversity is the measure of the health of the ecosystem. It therefore underpins people’s livelihoods and sustainable development in all areas of activity, including economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing in people, their lives, future and their well-being. Preserving biodiversity and human development must go hand-in-hand. Once there was only a choice between development and conservation. But now we realize that we cannot separate these two worlds any longer.
Biodiversity is like a large tank, from which humans can draw food, pharmaceutical products and even livelihood. Biodiversity is an “assurance” for life on our Planet and therefore must be protected at all costs, because it is a universal heritage that can offer immediate advantages to human beings.
Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet. It underpins human wellbeing in the present and in the future, and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike. Biodiversity loss jeopardizes nature’s vital contributions to humanity, endangering economies, livelihoods, food security, cultural diversity and quality of life, and constitutes a major threat to global peace and security.
Climate change is a major driver of biodiversity erosion. Changes in the temperature of the atmosphere and precipitation, ocean acidification, sea level rise and the nature of some extreme events adversely impact biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The existence of over 1 200 species of plants and animals recorded in North-east India fascinates us. These species comprise 50 species of soil and airborne fungi, 55 orchids, 52 edible fruits, and 50 medicinal plants, 75 each of woody plants, shrubs and herbs, five rotifers, 169 nematode worms, nearly 500 insects, including 65 species of silk moths, 25 each of edible insects, lady bird beetles, aphids, parasitoids and 150 each of thrips and butterflies besides 120 species of fishes, including 29 ornamental forms. It is a home to 17 crop species that represent 47 per cent of the crop diversity available in the country.
North-east India supports nearly 50 per cent of the total flowering plants recorded in India, out of which 31.58 per cent are endemic. But the region is suffering from the acute environmental degradation threatening to the permanent loss of the biodiversity.
The biodiversity richness of Manipur includes about 4,000 angiosperms, 1200 medicinal plants, 34 species of edible fungi, about 500 orchids, 55 species of bamboo, 695 birds, 160 fish species, 21 migratory aquatic birds and multitude of butterflies, insects etc. It has two globally recognized biodiversity hotspots and an eco-region renowned for its high species diversity and endemism. There are 145 medicinal plants that the healers use for treating 59 ailments. But the forest areas are fast depleting and the state is now facing irreparable environmental damages due to several reasons, including urbanization or modernization.
Therefore, for the sake of mother earth and the future generation, this International Day of Biodiversity reminds us the need to save our biodiversity.
(The views expressed are personal)
First published:21 May 2022, 6:41 pm
biodiversityenvironmentnatureInternational Biodiversity Day
N Munal Meitei