Today is World Environment Day, set aside by the United Nations to create awareness around our environment and how important it is that each of us should act in the smallest way possible to protect it.
As individuals, we should think about our consumption and how we can make positive changes for the sake of our planet. As businesses, we should strive to be greener and to develop greener models. As farmers, growers, and manufacturers we should think first and foremost about sustainability and act accordingly.
As governments; parks, nature reserves, and wild areas should be safeguarded. As educators, we should teach awareness and instill inspiration about Earth and the importance of protecting her. Together we should become fierce gatekeepers for a greener future in which we live in harmony with the environment and all it has to offer.
The theme for World Environment Day this year is biodiversity.
We must preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity. - E. O. Wilson
What is Biodiversity
Biodiversity is measured by the number of unique plant or animal species found in a certain area. Let’s compare a tropical rainforest to the Arctic. In a rainforest, you get a vast amount of variety in plant species, fungi, and bacteria, together with critters of all kinds - so biodiversity is very high. In the Arctic, it is cold, and very little can survive such severe conditions. As such, biodiversity is low. All these different species live within a certain ecosystem such as a rainforest or ocean and it is important that these ecosystems are kept healthy and rich in biodiversity.
Oxalis species | There are more than 770 Oxalis species worldwide with about 270 of those indigenous to southern Africa
Factors resulting in Biodiversity loss
As humans, we can prevent biodiversity loss by placing more attention on protecting nature and being more aware of what we produce and consume. These are some of the major factors influencing biodiversity across the globe:
- Land use
Taking the natural environment and changing it into a built environment.
So much is removed that a population of plant or animal species can no longer sustain itself. Think, poaching!
- Climate change
Warming trends, seen with climate change, drive habitat loss.
Marine and freshwater habitats are the worst affected by pollution
- Invasive species
We all enjoy a bit of Rooikrans wood for a braai, but little do most know that Rooikrans is highly invasive in South Africa and competes with local species and completely takes over their natural habitat. Learn more about Invasive species in South Africa in the below collection we have in our knowledgebase:
What can you do to help?
- Be a conscious consumer
Think before you buy, recycle and re-use and do your part to support local small businesses that are eco-friendly.
- Learn, share, inspire
Whether it’s about plastic pollution, endangered species, or microbeads - do your part, get educated on the topic of biodiversity, and share your knowledge and findings with others.
- Garden for biodiversity
Let’s all work together and create more wildlife-friendly gardens! By making small changes to the way you already garden, you can create a happier and healthier environment for all the birds, bees, butterflies, and insects in your garden. We are not saying ‘go wild’ and forget about a neat and tidy garden, simply put - just try and do things a bit differently.
Have a wild strip in your garden where dandelions, clover, and weeds can grow freely.
Next time you visit a garden centre, buy a bird- or pollinator-friendly plant instead.
Make sure you have a water bath and bird feeder in your garden.
Try and avoid chemical pesticides.
Build a bee or insect hotel with your kids or buy one from Tutus Loco!
Water bath with a rock in the middle to act as a landing strip for insects and birds
*It’s not completely relevant to our country and climate, but there are such valuable tips and ideas in this booklet brought out by Juanita Browne and the Laois County Council. If you are interested in gardening for biodiversity - this is a must-read!
- Become a pollinator with #PolliNationSA
Bees give us life and are unequaled when it comes to the role they play in ensuring biodiversity. They are responsible for pollinating more than a third of all our food crops and around 90% of wildflowers.
According to experts, bees are a keystone species, meaning they help define an entire ecosystem. Without their presence or activities, ecosystems would be dramatically different and potentially not exist at all.
Honey bee in a Citrus tree
#PolliNationSA is shining the spotlight on these buzzing insects by giving South Africans the opportunity to show their support for their pollinating ways. And it’s really as easy as A-Bee-C. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
- Snap a pic of a bee-friendly plant that you’re growing in your garden, on your stoep, windowsill or balcony. Bee Friendly Plants and flowers include Basil, Borage, Rosemary, Lavender, Citrus trees, Aloe, Vygies, Clivia, Daisies, and Protea, and Candide has loads of information about these. It’s worth considering growing more than one, to ensure there’s a plant in bloom throughout the year. Bees are busy…they never stop!
- Share the pic in a post using the hashtag #PolliNationSA.
- Once posted, you’ll receive a #PolliNationSA sticker that will be added to your profile pic confirming your pollinator status.
The #PolliNationSA sticker on your profile picture
By joining the #PolliNationSA movement you’ll automatically be added to a countrywide map that depicts how this growing movement is spreading and reaching all corners of South Africa.