New Straits Times

Vi­tal to re­spect ecosys­tems and di­ver­sity

- DR A. ALDRIE AMIR In­sti­tute for En­vi­ron­ment and De­vel­op­ment (LESTARI) Univer­siti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia Overpopulation · Animals · Climate Change · Zoology · Science · Ecology · Ecosystem · Consulting · Social Issues · Society · Wildlife · Biology

MALAYSIA and the rest of the world cel­e­brated In­ter­na­tional Day for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity on May 22, 2020 with the theme “Our so­lu­tions are in Na­ture”.

In con­junc­tion with the spe­cial day, the Min­istry of En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources teamed up with ERE Con­sult­ing Group to or­gan­ise two on­line we­bi­nars on May 21. They fea­tured prom­i­nent speak­ers rep­re­sent­ing key sec­tors in the gov­er­nance, re­search and con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity in Malaysia.

One of the highlights dur­ing the dis­cus­sions was the out­stand­ing roles played by our di­verse ecosys­tem and the vi­tal ser­vices they pro­vide for Na­ture and for so­ci­ety.

Ever since the be­gin­ning of their ex­is­tence, hu­mans have de­pended on Na­ture and its re­sources.

As time goes by, the in­creas­ing de­mand on re­sources has ex­acted a pun­ish­ing toll on the nat­u­ral ecosys­tems. In the last 50 years alone, hu­man pop­u­la­tion has dou­bled and the global econ­omy has grown four-fold, re­sult­ing in great de­mand for ma­te­ri­als and en­ergy.

On top of this, the lev­els of pol­lu­tion and im­pact from cli­mate change have also be­come more and more ap­par­ent.

It is im­por­tant to note that ecosys­tems pro­vide tremen­dous ser­vices rang­ing from the pro­duc­tion of food to the reg­u­la­tion of wa­ter and cli­mate.

Ev­ery ecosys­tem pro­vides im­por­tant pro­vi­sion­ing ser­vices such as in the pro­duc­tion of food, raw ma­te­ri­als as well as medic­i­nal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and ge­netic re­sources.

Each and ev­ery sin­gle ecosys­tem also plays an im­por­tant role in reg­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal phys­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal pro­cesses, such as in main­tain­ing the hy­drol­ogy, at­mo­spheric, car­bon and other nu­tri­ent cy­cles.

Wet­lands and coastal ecosys­tems in par­tic­u­lar are in­stru­men­tal in mod­er­at­ing ex­treme weather events, pre­vent­ing floods and ero­sion, as well as in treat­ing wa­ters and sed­i­ments from ex­ces­sive nu­tri­ents, silts, pathogens and pol­lu­tants.

All ecosys­tems host a myr­iad va­ri­ety of species, pop­u­la­tion and com­mu­ni­ties of micro­organ­isms, plants and an­i­mals, in­di­cat­ing the wide va­ri­ety of ge­netic re­sources, particular­ly in a trop­i­cal megadi­verse coun­try like ours.

Pol­li­na­tion by in­sects, birds, bats and other agents is de­ter­mined to be one of the key lo­calised cy­cles that en­sures the con­tin­u­ous pro­duc­tion of fruits, which is crit­i­cal for ecosys­tems to play their pro­vi­sion­ing role.

Bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to Man’s sur­vival and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Con­sid­er­ing the im­por­tance of bio­di­ver­sity and our crit­i­cal de­pen­dency on the ecosys­tem, it is as­ton­ish­ing that we have lost so much forested area.

Let us re­flect on our ac­tions and the im­pact on the ecosys­tems and bio­di­ver­sity. The so­lu­tions to many of our is­sues lie in them.

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