With the beginning of the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, many people and businesses will be looking forward to a return to normality after months of lock downs and restrictions. However, business as usual cannot be the end goal for 2021. Our very future depends on us making transformational changes to our relationship with nature.
In the face of the overwhelming scale of the environmental challenges we face it is easy to say... it is not that bad... you are exaggerating... how can I possibly make a difference... it is not my problem... and decide to mentally flee from the threat. Believe me I also find this overwhelming at times.
But let me explain why it is definitely time to fight, not take flight, for our planet, however hard it is to perceive how we, as individuals, can have a positive impact.
1. The State Of The Natural World
The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released in 2019 highlighted how much damage we are doing to the natural world. It described nature’s decline as ‘unprecedented’, reported that a million species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades, and called for ‘transformative changes’. The report identified habitat loss and the overexploitation of wild animals and plants as the major causes.
2. The Wildlife Trade
Focusing on economic growth means we have carved roads into wild habitats, granting easy access to traders, poachers and traffickers and making the collection and trade of wild animals easier. As we travel deeper into isolated wild spaces, wild animals come into increasing contact with people, escalating the risk of new zoonotic diseases, such as covid-19, being transmitted to people. The exponential growth in the trade in and trafficking of wild animals either live or for parts and products derived from them, increases the risks to both animals and people.
3. Climate Crisis
On Climate Action, the United Nations states that “[Climate change] presents ever-growing threats to people’s health, jobs and safety. The stakes could not be higher: the science shows temperatures are in record-breaking territory, greenhouse gas levels are mounting, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are getting much worse”.
Researchers and policy makers are increasingly recognising the links between climate change and biodiversity loss. Protecting nature not only helps species survive and recover; it can also go a long way towards mitigating the impacts of climate change.
4. Ecosystem Integrity
Ecosystem function is dependent on a dynamic and delicate relationship between wildlife and the habitats they live in. Affect one and this balance, this relationship, is disrupted. This could be through the destruction of habitats, the removal of key species for the wildlife trade, or changing global temperatures.
Why is this important you ask? Well, ecosystems provide us with countless and invaluable services, including our oxygen, water, and the nutrients in the soil to grow our food...
While a metaphorical fight is needed to bring about the change we want to see, we should not despair. Born Free has put together a list of 10 suggested actions that we can all take to help protect nature, and ultimately ourselves:
Be a wildlife-friendly investor
Be a wildlife-friendly consumer
Avoid single-use plastics
Reduce your meat intake
Don't buy captivity
Spread the word
Encourage local wildlife
Find out more by visiting: www.bornfree.org.uk/protect-them, this list is not exhaustive and there are many more actions you can take, such as reducing international travel, but we hope this is a positive start.
A Parting Note
It is sadly true that future generations will be lumbered with the potentially catastrophic consequences of our actions and forced to play an unequal part in tackling them, but be under no illusion, the consequences of our actions will be felt, and are indeed already being felt, in our lifetimes.