biodiversity

15 Ways We Can Conserve Biodiversity Today

October 28, 2021 - Emily Newton

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Biodiversity is one variable we use to determine the overall health of an ecosystem. It’s also one of the most important. Biodiversity is nothing more or less than the range of plants and animals living in a habitat. It also refers to the degree of genetic differentiation, or variety, between members of the same species. Ecosystems with a strong biodiversity are better balanced than those without one. This means energy and other resources flow freely to benefit and support incoming generations, including our own. Let’s look at 15 ways that individuals, companies, governments and institutions can help cultivate an awareness of and conserve biodiversity. As we do, we’ll learn more about why it’s so important.

1. Designate More Nature Preserves

When nature preserves receive legal protection at the federal level, they become known as national parks. This designation is essential for preserving the natural habitats that support rich biodiversity.

The consequences of allowing human activity to compromise natural habitats can include the loss of entire species and unique ecosystems. This is why the Obama administration made a point to set aside more land for protection than any other president.

The Trump presidency saw many protections for national parks and monuments removed or scaled back. However, President Biden sought to restore those, and named national park protection as one of his priorities for his first 100 days in office. President Biden recently restored national monument status to two sites in Utah and one off the coast of New England.

2. Improve Awareness of Invasive Species

There are almost certainly several invasive, non-native species in your yard right now. For instance, the tree-of-heaven is a fast-growing and aggressive species native to China. Now, it springs up almost everywhere — and thanks to its dense root structure and quick-growing capabilities, it can choke the biodiversity out of an area in no time.

Property owners need to identify invasive species like these — different states have their own websites to help — and remove them before they can establish themselves. Local governments should have similar initiatives in place for public lands.

Apps are making identification easier, too. For example, there’s one for the Great Lakes region that people can use to track and report invasive species. These tools help conserve biodiversity by reducing the chances that native plants get overtaken.

3. Reconsider Lawns

Why does Arizona have grass?” asked one AZCentral op-ed from 2018. “Green lawns don’t belong in desert cities.”

In fact, may landscapers and ecologists refer to grass lawns anywhere as deserts for biodiversity and even and even ecological disasters. If you want to know what human-style terraforming looks like, grass lawns are a great example.

We will need to revisit our town ordinances, but selectively replacing some grass on our properties with meadow areas would be a huge boon for biodiversity. Plus, grass lawns are a waste of water, fertilizer and gasoline.

Some people have planted eco-friendly ground coverings as alternatives to traditional lawns. For example, clover and buffalo grass are some popular options. 

4. Restore Damaged Habitats

Another one of the critical functions of government, as far as ecological stewardship is concerned, is to ensure habitats recover after disruption by human activities.

One example of a success story is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995.After being hunted out of the area and onto Endangered and Threatened lists, the reappearance of wolves in Yellowstone coincided with an explosion in the richness of beneficial life throughout the region. This included a ninefold increase in the number of beaver colonies and a larger population of elk, both of which have helped reinvigorate additional animal and plant species.

A more recent case involves a project in Florida to restore hundreds of acres of black mangroves after road-building initiatives cut off their tidal access. Besides creating a vital habitat for birds and fishes, the mangroves provide storm surge protection during hurricanes and aid in carbon capture. 

Numerous types of biodiversity conservation exist for people trying to restore critical habitats. Some include automation to get the job done faster, such as by using drones to deposit seeds to promote new tree growth.

5. Boost Science Funding

Several government offices had been singled out for cuts in the White House’s 2019 budget, including the Department of the Interior, the EPA and others that are relevant to the use of land and resources.

Instead, these and other science and environment-focused programs, including NASA, saw low single-digit budget increases. If we are to better understand how human activity ripples throughout the natural world and how to conserve biodiversity, we need to keep increasing science funding rather than cutting it.

If we are to better understand how human activity ripples throughout the natural world and how to conserve biodiversity, we need to keep increasing science funding rather than cutting it.

The budget decisions made under President Trump caused many funding cuts for science organizations. However, when President Biden made his initial funding proposals in the spring of 2021, it was clear he intended to reverse that trend. 
The budgetary requests included a 20% increase for the National Science Foundation. Biden also sought a budget rise of more than 21% for the Environmental Protection Agency.

6. Practice Responsible Fishing

Word is getting out that most of the world’s fishing practices are unsustainable. This is a problem that directly impacts biodiversity and the health of our waterways — not just what kinds of fish we can bring home from the grocery store.

The rising demand for fish, coupled with worries about overfishing and reductions in biodiversity, has given rise to aquaculture. This is a way to raise fish, plants and animals for food in the open ocean. Aquaculture promotes sustainable fish population levels and helps maintain the health of coastal areas.

Big brands are paying attention to the need for sustainable fishing, too. StarKist recently announced it sources all tuna and salmon from suppliers that meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainable fishing standards.

7. Buy Sustainably

Individuals have helped raise the demand for sustainably sourced products, and they can continue to force the issue through collective a

Individuals have helped raise the demand for sustainably sourced products, and they can continue to force the issue through collective action. How can we conserve biodiversity without a formal background in science or wildlife protection? Choosing sustainable products helps ensure we don’t overconsume resources that are critical to the health and genetic diversity of our ecosystems.

The rising interest in sustainable products also spotlights how creative people can get when determining the best ways to reuse things. They engage in real-life applications that prove the well-known “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” saying. 

In one example, an 18-year-old student turns decommissioned fire hoses into luxury accessories. The product line includes a credit card holder and unisex belts, as well as several sizes of zippered document holders. The designer hoped to remind people of firefighters’ heroism while helping to save the planet with these upcycling efforts.

8. Seed Bank Programs

Seed banks are seen by ecologists and other scientists as an important failsafe against the diminishing biodiversity of plant life. Predictably, the world’s seed banks now face a critical lack of funding. A study by Crop Trust found hundreds of crops relevant to biodiversity and cultivation that are underrepresented or missing from seed banks.

There are 1,750 seed banks in the world protecting over 7 million seeds and other samples. Having them available ensures we can continue scientific inquiry into their characteristics and makes sure at least a minimal population survives extreme conditions.

Terraformation is one example of a company trying to harness the potential of seed banks to slow the climate crisis and make this conservation method more accessible.  It packs seed banks and nursery kits into shipping containers and sends them worldwide. Each modular seed bank holds up to 5 million seeds, providing enough to reforest 5,000 acres.

9. Build More Wildlife Corridors

One of the ways humans impact the world is by dividing the natural landscape with roads. To help unite fragmented land masses and help animal populations stabilize after development disruptions, many locations turn to wildlife corridors.

These are protected physical connections that animals can use to cross the road. Research suggests wildlife corridors help conserve biodiversity and promote the flow of genetic material between different animal populations.

An ambitious proposal to preserve biodiversity in West Sussex, England aims to spend a six-figure sum on a gigantic wildlife corridor initiative. It involves 60 sites and includes potential additions ranging from wildflower meadows to tree and hedge planting. People working on the project also hope to restore ditches for water voles.

10. Plan for Pollinators

“Save the bees” is a rallying cry across the world. The scientific community views the decline in pollinator populations as a sign of climate change and impending ecological collapse.

By reducing pesticide use and engaging in pollinator-friendly landscaping design on properties and public areas, we can give rise to an even greater variety of plant and animal species. Bees and pollinators are part of the foundation of Earth’s ecology.

Researchers at West Virginia University have also come up with a future-minded plan to help mitigate the effects of pollinator decline. They’re building a six-armed robot to assist humans with pollination in greenhouse settings. The team chose blackberry and tomato crops to test the machine on, noting that it’s possible to produce tomatoes in greenhouses for 11 months of the year, offering plenty of opportunities.

11. Buy Organic Produce

A key benefit of buying locally sourced, organic produce is that such practices promote greater genetic diversity among staple crops. This is in stark contrast to industrialized farming, which results in monoculture — where a whole population of plants is susceptible to the same diseases and pests. Greater biodiversity makes our crops more resilient.

It’s even better to get organic produce from local markets or community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs in your area. In such cases, it’s often possible to talk directly with the people who grew the crops, getting specific details about their methods and values.

12. Incentivize Private Conservation Efforts

Governments at every level have the means to incentivize private landowners for undertaking conservation and biodiversity protection efforts. In Australia, they are awarded for entering into legally binding conservation agreements as well as the formal reservation of lands for ongoing protection.

13. Buy Less Stuff

In addition to being choosier about the provenance of the products we buy, it’s also essential that we buy fewer material objects across the board. Many materials, once extracted from the environment, will take many years to return there, if they ever do. Buying sustainable merchandise is good. However, practicing restraint is better.

There’s not just habitat loss to think about as we window-shop online. There’s also the resources and infrastructure required to bring those products to your doorstep, which further eats into the stability and richness of the natural ecosystem.

When you do buy things online and conclude you genuinely need those items or will get a lot of use out of them, think about ways to reduce the environmental impact. For example, purchase necessities in bulk to reduce the need for repeat deliveries and reuse the shipping materials if possible.

14. Captive Breeding Programs

Captive breeding is slightly controversial. Why? Because it involves the capture of species of which there are few representatives in the wild. Nevertheless, it’s an important step in bolstering the headcount of perilously endangered animals before reintroducing them into the wild.

15. Strengthen Environmental Regulations

The domestic policy of the United States sets the tone for other places in the world. The Biden Administration has made the planet a priority. It’s too early to say whether the efforts will bring long-term improvements to conserve biodiversity. 

However, as of October 2021, President Biden had enacted 27 environmental policies and proposed 25 others. He has also overturned several actions taken under Trump that thwarted or rolled back environmental progress. 

Classifying emperor penguins as a threatened species to give them more protection is one of Biden’s proposals, and the administration has already successfully ended industrial old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

It’ll be interesting to see what other progress occurs during the later phases of this presidency. Will it be enough to position the United States as an environmental leader and encourage other nations to follow suit?

The Effort to Conserve Biodiversity

To say this is an unfortunate time to dig in on anti-environment rhetoric would be an understatement. As time goes on, it’s becoming more urgent for voters to single out candidates who are serious about preserving Earth’s ecosystems and making plans to help the planet recover from humanity’s presence here.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 26, 2019 and was updated October 28, 2021 to provide readers with more updated information.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

Author

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She enjoys reading and writing about how technology is changing the world around us.

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