The impact of human actions on the environment is not restricted to us alone. The fauna and flora of planet Earth also suffer the consequences and countless species have their continuity put at risk with the destruction of ecosystems, pollution and climate change.
What may not be so obvious is that human existence itself is also threatened when other species are at risk. This is because the balance of ecosystems and the availability and quality of natural resources depend heavily on biodiversity. Understanding what it is and preserving biodiversity is therefore essential for all life on Earth.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the concept that encompasses living organisms of all species on the planet, as well as the way these individuals interact with each other and with the environment around them. It can also refer to the genetic variety among individuals and the diversity of ecosystems on the planet.
There are millions of species of animals, plants and microorganisms on the planet. In fact, we know only a small part of it: the vast majority of species have not yet been identified and cataloged by humanity. But even if the species is unknown to us, its existence in its environment fulfills an ecological function, and if it is removed, other living beings will also be affected.
Genetic biodiversity, in turn, refers to the differences present in the DNA between one individual and another. It guarantees varied characteristics within and outside of a species. One issue in which genetic biodiversity is very important is food security: guaranteeing a genetic variety in species used for food, such as rice or corn, for example. If a pest reaches a specific variation, it is essential to have others available for cultivation.
The biodiversity of ecosystems refers to the characteristics of temperature, humidity, relief, soil, among others, which will define what an environment is like and what species can exist in it.
How to help preserve biodiversity?
The preservation of biodiversity is the result of the sum of individual actions that impact the environment around us. Here are some actions you can take to help preserve biological diversity on the planet:
- Taking care of rivers and seas: do not dispose of your garbage improperly to ensure that it does not end up in bodies of water. Also be careful with the disposal of oil, chemicals and medicines: look for collection places and don’t throw it down your drain.
- Do not buy exotic plants or animals and report illegal trade: removing exotic species from their habitat for commercialization is illegal and constitutes an environmental crime. Do not fund this practice and report it if you see it.
- Beware of invasive species: when traveling, do not bring plants or seeds from other regions, much less animals. These individuals may not fit into the new ecosystem and become an environmental problem. A famous example of this is the hippos bred by Pablo Escobar in Colombia.
- Donate or volunteer for an NGO: there are several non-governmental organizations that work seriously in the fight for the preservation of the environment. Look for one near you or on the internet to make donations or work as a volunteer on a project.
- Conscious consumption: avoid wasting water, energy, food or any other resource that comes from nature. Unnecessary spending causes more resources to be extracted causing more impact to your environment.