Why does biodiversity matter?
We are very conscious of the impact building can have on the environment. At Pearce Fine Homes we aim to achieve a net 10% biodiversity gain with every development, meaning that we strive to improve the natural environment wherever possible.
What is biodiversity?
The biological diversity of Earth refers to the number of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms that our planet supports. This is commonly shortened to biodiversity. It includes the variation of the genes of all species and the different ecosystems within our planet, such as coral reefs, rainforests and deserts.
Biodiversity also represents the knowledge collected and passed on through evolving species for millions of years. As the Earth’s environment has changed the environmental conditions have changed too - and surviving this has been as a result of interactions between the genes, species, communities and ecosystems that have thrived to make Earth habitable for millions of years.
A healthy biodiversity provides natural services for all such as the protection of water resources, soil formation, nutrient storage, pollution breakdown, climate stability, food, medicinal resources, wood products, ornamental plants, breeding stocks, recreation and tourism.
Why is it important?
Biodiversity is the most complex and important feature of our planet. “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity” says Prof David Macdonald, at Oxford University. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat all rely on biodiversity.
Biodiversity increases the productivity of an ecosystem where no matter how small, each species has a role to play that is equally important. We know that a larger number of plant species means a larger variety of crops. We know that greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms and we know that healthy ecosystems can recover and withstand disasters better than ecosystems that are not healthy. Preserving the diversity in wildlife is critically important to our whole life, not just breathing and eating but our health in general, our safety and our livelihoods.
Five key reasons that biodiversity matters
It provides health and food security - Millions of species work together to provide us with a large array of fruits, vegetables and animal products essential to a healthy, balanced diet.
It helps fight disease - Higher rates of biodiversity have been linked to an increase in human health. Plants are essential for medicines and protected natural areas has been linked to lower instances of disease
It benefits business - More than half of the world's GDP ($44 trillion) is highly or moderately dependent on nature. Many businesses are, therefore, at risk due to increasing nature loss.
It provides livelihoods - Humans derive approximately $125 trillion of value from natural ecosystems each year. Globally, three out of four jobs are dependent on water and many more on agricultural sectors and forest ecosystems.
It protects us - Biodiversity makes the earth habitable. Biodiverse ecosystems provide nature-based solutions that buffer us from natural disasters such as floods and storms, filter our water and regenerate our soils.
So what’s the problem?
Diversity within species, between species and ecosystems (biodiversity) is declining faster now than at any other time in human history. The global population of 7.6 billion people only represents 0.01% of all living things in terms of weight but humans have caused the loss of 83% of wild mammals and half of all plants.
The human population continues to increase and wild areas are razed to create farmland, housing and industrial sites. In 2016, 30 million hectares of forests were felled globally - that is an area the size of Britain and Ireland combined!
Poaching and unsustainable hunting for food is a big factor as more than 300 species of mammal are being eaten into levels of extinction. Pollution is an obvious feature in the destruction of biodiverse environments, particularly when it comes to our seas. Global trade and shipping not only cause issues with species in the pet trade but also by spreading populations of highly damaging invasive species around the planet. Rivers and lakes seem to have been hardest hit in recent years, with freshwater animal populations in these collapsing by 81% by 1970 following huge water extraction for farms and people, as well as the effect of pollution and dams.
What can we do?
The only solution is to protect nature and give it the space it needs to thrive. The world currently protects 15% of land and 7% of the oceans in wildlife reserves but there are some who argue that half the land surface must be set aside for nature. Most wildlife is destroyed by land being cleared for cattles, soy, palm oil, timber and leather. As most of us consume these products every day we can all help by choosing sustainable options, as does eating less meat (in particular beef which has a larger environmental footprint than other animals).
It is reported that one third of all our fruits and vegetables would simply not exist without pollinators visiting flowers. Honeybees are the primary species that fertilize food plants and they are vital to biodiversity. In fact they are more important than poultry in terms of human nutrition. There are 130,000 plants for which bees are essential to pollination, from melons to pumpkins, raspberries, and all kinds of fruit trees - as well as animal fodder such as clover.
At Pearce Fine Homes we understand the important link between bees and biodiversity and that is why we plant a diverse range of native species of plants and trees in all our development sites. We also form local nature spaces such as bee-friendly gardens to further improve the natural environment. We also understand the importance of preserving and improving the ecology of each development site and implement practical measures such as creating reptile refugia, installing bird and bat boxes and creating hedgehog highways where appropriate. Protecting and providing homes for the natural wildlife is part of our commitment to sustainability.
Read more about how we protect and support local wildlife and pick up tips on encouraging and protecting the wildlife in your local area - whether you have an allotment, a large garden or a small courtyard.
For further information please read our Sustainability Policy or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: theguardian.com, ecowatch.com, globalissues.org