Biodiversity in Nature today
Biodiversity is the variety of all living things, and how they fit together to form the web of life on Earth, to provide our world with oxygen, water, food and countless other benefits.
Healthy biodiversity is essential to the health, well-being and survival of life on Earth – and that includes us humans too. Vital processes like photosynthesis (where trees absorb carbon dioxide and breathe out life sustaining oxygen) and the pollination of flowers and food crops by bees and other insects, are all part of the complex interdependencies and benefits of healthy biodiversity.
And with 80% of European crops depending on insect pollination to produce fruit and veg, and seeds for the next harvest, few creatures are more important than pollinating insects: honeybees, wild solitary bees, moths and butterflies, who Sir David Attenborough describes as ‘those small creatures on whom the world depends’.
But over recent years there’s been a massive decline in insect populations – all part of a wider threatened extinction of plants and animals worldwide. As with climate change, scientists have identified human action – most notably, rapid worldwide industrialisation and growth of cities during the past 100 years – as the primary cause of this damage. So is there anything we can do to fix the damage before it’s too late?
Biodiversity in urban greenspaces
Cities need naturally biodiverse green spaces to make them healthy and enjoyable places to live in. But polluted air, noise, heat and the fragmentation of greenspace by busy roads, pavements and closely packed buildings make them a challenging environment for plants and animals. And the chemically-based, over-tidy, over-cultivated, ‘keep Nature in its place’ approach to gardening during recent decades has also been part of the problem.
Thankfully, this is now changing, as local people and local Councils wake up to the problems, and the threats to pollinators and to ourselves, and begin to find new (old) ways to repair the damage and work with Nature, rather than against it. Nature is benefitting and we are benefitting. Because, in life on Earth, everything is connected.
Repairing & re-wilding our cities
Way back in 2010 the Lawton Review, entitled Making Space for Nature, recommended creating properly planned networks to connect and improve existing wildlife sites, and create ‘pollinator corridors’ bees and other insects can travel along. This approach has been adopted in Camden’s 2021 Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, to create stepping stones and corridors of habitat through the Borough. Because “We need to give nature better and more places to go, and new ways to get there, if it is to recover from decades of decline”.