We should all get out and en­joy bio­di­ver­sity

Bray People - - LIFESTYLE -

NEXT Sun­day, 22nd May, is In­ter­na­tional Day for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity. The day is cel­e­brated each year to in­crease un­der­stand­ing and aware­ness of bio­di­ver­sity is­sues.

Bio­di­ver­sity is an um­brella term to cover the great va­ri­ety of life forms that we share planet Earth with. The term not alone in­cludes such ob­vi­ous things as plants and an­i­mals, it also en­com­passes mi­cro­scopic life forms like bacteria and chem­i­cal agents like viruses and genes, while, on the other hand, it em­braces large liv­ing sys­tems or ecosys­tems like rain­forests, reefs and is­lands.

It all started with the Earth Sum­mit or­gan­ised by the United Na­tions in Rio de Janeiro in June of 1992. One of the ar­eas of ma­jor con­cern at that con­fer­ence was the on­go­ing loss of bio­di­ver­sity. The whole­sale destruc­tion of the wild places they for­merly lived in re­sulted in the ex­tinc­tion of crea­tures, the loss of habi­tats and the diminu­tion of the wealth of the planet’s gene pool.

The re­sult of the de­lib­er­a­tions in Rio was the Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity, an in­ter­na­tional agree­ment to try to halt the loss of bio­di­ver­sity glob­ally. The re­sponse by the Euro­pean Union was the es­tab­lish­ment of Natura 2000, a Europe-wide net­work of na­ture pro­tec­tion sites.

To­day the Natura 2000 net­work com­prises some 26,000 sites and na­ture con­ser­va­tion ar­eas through­out the ter­ri­to­ries of the 28 mem­ber states of the Euro­pean Union. On-go­ing de­vel­op­ment of the net­work re­mains the cen­tre­piece of EU pol­icy with re­gard to na­ture and bio­di­ver­sity.

While th­ese ac­tions by the EU and the ac­tions of many con­cerned coun­tries world­wide, have, no doubt, con­trib­uted to slow­ing the rate of loss of bio­di­ver­sity, the sad re­al­ity is that bio­di­ver­sity is still in de­cline with many species fac­ing ex­tinc­tion.

The theme for this year’s In­ter­na­tional Day for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity is ‘Main­stream­ing Bio­di­ver­sity; Sus­tain­ing Peo­ple and their Liveli­hoods’.

Bio­di­ver­sity is the foun­da­tion for life and for the es­sen­tial ser­vices pro­vided by ecosys­tems. It there­fore un­der­pins peoples’ liveli­hoods and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in all ar­eas of ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing eco­nomic sec­tors such as agri­cul­ture, forestry, fish­eries and tourism, among oth­ers. By halt­ing the loss of any of the es­ti­mated 31,000 species found in Ire­land, we are in­vest­ing in peo­ple, their lives and their well-be­ing.

While pub­lic events have been or­gan­ised to cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Day for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity we can all get out, cel­e­brate and en­joy bio­di­ver­sity next Sun­day be it in the lo­cal park or open wood­land, on the beach or in a na­ture re­serve or other wild place.

For­merly rare, the Pine Marten is now ex­tend­ing its range.

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