Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. It includes genetic diversity, and the diversity of habitats and species including plants and animals. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and increasingly, by the influence of humans. This biodiversity is part of our natural heritage, and the heritage that we will pass on to our children.
Biodiversity is part of the daily lives of every one of us, and we are also part of biodiversity. We are dependent on it, and responsible for it, for our survival. It is the source of all life, food, many raw materials, genetic resources for agriculture, medicine and development generally. Biodiversity loss matters. It matters for ethical, emotional, environmental and economic reasons.
Is biodiversity under threat? The earth's genetic, habitat and species diversity is under increasing threat. Many species of plant and animal are in decline or are endangered.
We all have a responsibility to protect biodiversity. In fact you may already be doing it and not realise you are! The Government, State Agencies, the Local Authorities, businesses, local communities, landowners, farmers and individuals can all play a role in protecting biodiversity.
Internationally, governments have acknowledged the importance of biodiversity. The Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) was established in 1993 following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The CBD recognises that biodiversity should be conserved for reasons of ethics, economic benefit and human survival. Ireland has ratified, i.e agreed to be bound by, the CBD. As part of our obligations to implement the CBD, Ireland has produced a National Biodiversity Plan. The Plan sets out a framework through which Ireland aims to provide for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity over a five-year period.
Here are some simple things that you can do to protect and enhance the biodiversity in your local area:
- Learn about biodiversity by discovering the names of the trees, birds, plants and animals in your local area.
- Experience biodiversity by visiting a local park, forest or public garden.
- Plant native species or include a water feature to transform your garden into a haven for wildlife.
- Plant perennials such as nectar producing flowers and berry bushes as food sources for birds, insects and small mammals.
- Avoid using toxic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides in your garden
- Make you own compost from fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grinds, tea bags, egg shells, leaves and grass clippings. Reducing food waste will also have a positive effect on the environment. Further information on composting, and composting bins, are available from the Environmental Awareness Officer, Longford County Council
- Grow heritage, or old-fashioned varieties of plants, fruits and vegetables and save seeds of native plants. This will help to preserve the genetic resources for the future.