Bio­di­ver­sity: Half of us don’t know what it means

Fingal Independent - - LIFESTYLE - JIM HURLEY’S Na­ture Trail

Na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity Week starts on Fri­day of this week (the 19th) and fin­ishes on Satur­day of next week (the 27th).

In ad­di­tion to the special week, bio­di­ver­sity is be­ing cel­e­brated a lot. May 21 is ‘Euro­pean Natura 2000 Day’, May 22 is ‘In­ter­na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity Day’ and 2010-2020 is the United Na­tions ‘Decade on Bio­di­ver­sity’.

So, what is it; what is bio­di­ver­sity? Back in 2007 a sur­vey was car­ried out through­out the Euro­pean Union. Poll­sters asked rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ples of peo­ple across all Mem­ber States: ‘Are you aware of bio­di­ver­sity?’ For an­a­lyt­i­cal pur­poses peo­ple had to pick from three pos­si­ble answers: I’ve heard of it and I know what it means, I’ve heard of it but I do not know what it means, or I’ve never heard of it.

In Ire­land, 52% of peo­ple said that they’d never heard of it. The av­er­age for all 27 Mem­ber States was 35% with a range ex­tend­ing from 11% in the most aware coun­try to 85% in the least aware coun­try.

In Ire­land, the sam­ple was made up of 1,000 ran­domly se­lected peo­ple over the age of 16. Those who said they never heard of the word ‘ bio­di­ver­sity’ com­prised 46% males, 58% fe­males, 53% un­der 25 years of age and 62% over 65.

The Flash Euro­barom­e­ter sur­vey is re­peated ev­ery three years and the lat­est data show that the num­ber of peo­ple in Ire­land who never heard of bio­di­ver­sity fell from 52% in 2007 to 35% last year. That must be good news. Aware­ness is grow­ing but that needs to be tem­pered with the re­al­ity that more peo­ple are hear­ing about bio­di­ver­sity be­cause of habi­tat loss, species be­com­ing ex­tinct, global warm­ing, etc.

So, what is bio­di­ver­sity? The word is, of course, a made-up term, a con­trac­tion of two words: ‘ bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity’. The term be­came pop­u­lar in the 1980s to de­scribe the va­ri­ety of life forms found in a par­tic­u­lar place be it a wood, a rock pool, a bog, a moun­tain top, etc. Bio­di­ver­sity might, for ex­am­ple, be very high in an old wood­land but, un­der­stand­ably, very low in the carpark of a nearby vil­lage. It won’t take you long to think of some place with a high bio­di­ver­sity not too far from wher­ever you are lo­cated. It may be your lo­cal na­ture re­serve, a Coillte open for­est, your lo­cal beach or town park. Do make a point of go­ing there dur­ing Na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity Week to ex­plore, savour, cel­e­brate and en­joy its bio­di­ver­sity.

En­joy a na­ture trail for Na­tional Bio­di­ver­sity Week.

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