The Green Corridor – Why You Should Care About Biodiversity
It happens that I am writing this month’s column on Earth Day (celebrated on April 22 every year!), so I’m going to talk about a topic that’s close to my heart — biodiversity, the variation of life on Earth.
Those who know me know I am a big nature lover and always have been since my days as a boy scout. I was fortunate to have grown up in the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Tennessee, where I could enjoy fresh air, clean water, and beautiful mountain countryside. Being surrounded by such verdant green vistas can give one the impression that our home planet is healthy and flourishing, but this is not always the case when you start looking closely and seeing landscapes touched by the hand of mankind verses nature in its unaltered form. There is a big difference between the two and one way to describe that difference is to measure an area’s biodiversity.
If left untouched, a natural area generally displays a high level of biodiversity with many species of flora and fauna all trying to eek out a living alongside each other. It also means there is a natural check and balance achieved among the different species and life forms. When human activities alter this natural equilibrium by removing species or natural resources (such as fish or forests) and adding manmade elements (such as pollutants), the balance is broken and the area’s biodiversity is disturbed.
You might ask why biodiversity matters and how it concerns you. Simply put, biodiversity is essential to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, which in turn are vital for the welfare and survival of all species, including humans! One simple fact I use to illustrate just how interconnected we are with other members of our ecosystems is that one-third of the food we eat depends on animal pollinators, among which insects are essential in pollinating flowering plants. Yet, exposure to agrochemicals and habitat loss and degradation have contributed to alarming declines in insect populations in recent years. A German study found that flying insect populations have crashed by three-quarters since 1989. While most of us don’t like being pestered by insects all the time, we should remember that they do play an important role in our food security!
So what does this mean for the likes of us who work in logistics? What can someone involved with modern trade help to sustain and rebuild Earth’s biodiversity? Well, here are my suggestions:
Re-use developed land
Instead of planning projects that use undeveloped greenfields or newly reclaimed land from the ocean, companies should consider if there are areas zoned for industrial use that can be redeveloped. If government policies and local real estate environments do not incentivize this, then speak up and start asking for change. Encouraging
and supporting local conservation efforts can be one way to have a say in land use and development policy changes.
Re-wild degraded land
Biggest culprits that causes biodiversity loss is the massive deforestation that takes place to make way for monoculture farming, the growing of one type of plant at one time on a specific plot of land. It is a particularly serious problem in Southeast Asia and the Amazon where old-growth rainforests are chopped down and in their place come palm and soy plantations.
When we get rid of natural rainforests, not only are we losing the massive diversity of flora and fauna that live within the ecosystem, we’re also losing one of the most efficient carbon sinks mother nature has to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Researchers in Malaysia have found natural rainforests can hold more than four times the amount of carbon monoculture palm plantations can; and they believe the biodiversity of trees and plants in the rainforest is the primary driver for this difference.
When companies are looking for projects and organizations to support in order to offset their carbon emissions, they should select ones that work to protect our biodiversity by rewildling degraded lands. There are many organizations that are actively rehabilitating rainforests, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.
Last but not least, experience the benefits of biodiversity by spending time in nature. Even in Southeast Asia, where developments are happening at breakneck speeds, there are still many nature reserves and parks where biodiversity is thriving. And with luck and support
from all of us, these nature areas may continue to be protected and stand a chance to survive.
I know when I spend time in nature, I start to feel a reconnection with the real world. Maybe you too will feel the same!