Biodiversity conservation was the biggest environmental issue before global warming and climate change trumped it.
At the first global environmental Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 it was the big topic, important enough to get its own United Nations Convention.
Today it is all but forgotten. Just a few environmentalist, NGOs, bureaucrats, and academics remain passionate about it. The public and politicians have moved on.
It is worth exploring why conservation became a big issue and then why it wasn't.
First here are some definitions.
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity uses this formal definition…
"Biological diversity" means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems"
More simply it is...
the grand total of all the profusion of life on earth
or as Ed Wilson puts it in the title of his 1992 book...
the diversity of life
Check the ask alloporus what is biodiversity page for more details.
What is important here is that biodiversity contains
It has components parts and collectively those parts have measurable properties of diversity.
It's actually not about koalas at all.
biodiversity | some of the invertebrate animals collected in a light trap
The dictionary definition of conservation in the environmental context of the word is...
"the preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation and wildlife."
And it tends to come with the primary interpretation of preventing damage to the natural world through preservation. And if that is not possible, then perhaps apply some restoration and rehabilitation.
Whilst always well intentioned, this asset protection paradigm can become an environmental issues in itself.
Human population growth comes with huge demand for natural resources and for land and water to grow food and fibre.
This appropriation of space and habitat, along with hunting, fishing and forestry and the pollution impacts of industry has depleted biodiversity everywhere. There are fewer species than there were and most human altered habitats are far simpler in structure and biology than natural ones.
Biodiversity loss not only means that some iconic species are at risk, it also reduces the reliability of ecosystem services. This important feature of nature is sometimes called resilience.
Conservation advocates often focus on the preservation of the iconic species — koalas, elephants, walls, polar bears — and this has merit. But biodiversity conservation is really about keeping as much complexity as possible in the landscape.
Because it is complexity that helps to secure natural capital and the associated goods and services that we rely on so heavily. And this was always the real reason for the United Nations Convention.
Slowing down the rate of biodiversity loss by first understanding that complexity is important and then managing landscapes to enhance that complexity is still an important priority. The reason has not gone away but it was hard to prove and far less visual than the effects of "catastrophic global warming" that grabbed the headlines.
So the media spin cycle moved on long before biodiversity conservation solutions were found.
Artificial wetlands are important biodiversity hotspots
Biodiversity conservation has become the forgotten environmental issue.
At a time when the number of Google searches has increased exponentially, searches for biodiversity have declined.
You can read an explanation of this trend on Ask Alloporus sister blog, Alloporus | Ideas for healthy thinking post entitled Biodiversity | Google trends #2
biodiversity | trend in Google searches for the term biodiversity have declined
Click through for more details on this important environmental issue...
biodiversity | museum collections provide the raw material for biodiversity catalogues
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