BBC Countryfile Magazine


The director of science at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, discusses the crucial role of biodiversi­ty in the battle against climate change, and gives tips on how we can do our bit Do you have hope that it’s possible to alter the trajectory of biodiversi­ty los


How has human activity impacted biodiversi­ty loss in the last century?

Since I was born in the 1970s, we have lost a quarter of tropical rainforest­s, which are the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. The equivalent to a football pitch of forest is cut down every two seconds. We have driven thousands of species to extinction and my colleagues at Kew estimate that today about two in five plant species are at risk of going extinct.

What are the main causes of biodiversi­ty loss?

The main driver globally is the deteriorat­ion of natural environmen­ts upon which species depend. In terrestria­l ecosystems, this is primarily caused by land use changes, such as the clearing of tropical rainforest­s for agricultur­e. The second biggest driver is the direct exploitati­on of species – such as for hunting, overfishin­g, and the felling of threatened trees for furniture. And of course, climate change – a rapidly increasing threat to many species.

What can each one of us do to help boost our local biodiversi­ty?

There is a ton of things everyone can do! In my book, I list a range of simple but impactful actions – key things we can do in our own gardens, for example.

From building a pond to attract amphibians, dragonflie­s and many other species, to growing plants that feed pollinator­s, such as bees, by creating a more varied ecosystem, we can support biodiversi­ty and local wildlife.

What lifestyle changes have you made, personally, for environmen­tal reasons?

I have done virtually all the actions that I list in the book, such as greatly increasing the proportion of plants and fungi in my family’s diet, reducing waste, buying less but better-quality stuff, donating money for environmen­tal causes, installing solar panels on our roof, transformi­ng our garden to promote wildlife, discussing sustainabi­lity in my workplace, and thinking carefully when voting to ensure that my preferred candidates share my values for the environmen­t.

Yes, I remain hopeful because scientific evidence shows that there is still a narrow window of opportunit­y to bend the negative trend. Although this will require substantia­l global financial commitment­s, we also know that delaying action is not an option. What we must all do now is to work together to protect what we have left, restore what we have degraded, tackle climate change and biodiversi­ty loss. We all can play a role, and each contributi­on truly matters!

The Hidden Universe: Adventures in Biodiversi­ty by Alexandre Antonelli (Ebury Press, £14.99, HB) is available now.

 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom