By Susie George & Cheyenne Whisenhunt
Biodiversity is one of those words that means exactly what it sounds like. It is a term that encompasses the entire variety of life on earth. Biodiversity is essential to the continuation of life. Think about it. Undisturbed, nature heals herself.
Threats to Biodiversity
Nowadays, environmental degradation due to resource extraction and mass production practices is not only expected, it is required in order to succeed in modern industries. Destruction is not limited to the business sector. It can be as simple as veering off a walking trail and tracking invasive species into a forest, and as complex as the climate crisis. Some major impacts of biodiversity loss include increased pollution, species endangerment and extinction, deforestation, and of course, the increase in greenhouse gases as a result. In other words, all of our actions, harmful or not, impact our ecosystem, as humans are included in biodiversity.
For example, modern agriculture is one of the main threats to biodiversity, as it is a largely unavoidable construct in which many people take part. Large-scale farming typically operates on a monocrop system, which generally entails tilling and chemical usage. In other words, farmers are encouraged to only grow one crop on their land, which disturbs the biodiversity. The resulting environment is more susceptible to pests and other damage, requiring the use of chemical sprays to protect the crop. Another custom practice in this system is frequent tilling, which causes erosion that makes the land vulnerable to invasive species, natural disaster, or any other climate disturbance. While land clearing has the common purpose of agriculture, it is also of course for other human development of land for businesses, dwelling places, travel, etc.
What Does Biodiversity Look Like?
In contrast to the scenarios listed above, biodiverse land exists simply as we observe it in nature, which is the existence of different species working in tandem to support and strengthen one another. This creates a synergistic system that allows for diverse forms of life to flourish. The balance that results from biodiversity produces a natural cycle of life that enables a sustainable system for all that is supported through both predictable and unpredictable disruption. Biodiversity is required for life to continue to exist in harmony, and without it, life as we know it would be disturbed on an irreversible level.
If you would like to learn more about biodiversity (especially as it relates to the food system) we highly recommend the Hulu film The Biggest Little Farm, which illustrates this concept beautifully. This documentary depicts that while achieving biodiversity takes time, its result is a self-sustaining system that is better for all surrounding life, and for the present and long-term resiliency of the land.
Reducing your waste is extremely critical to encourage biodiversity. Avoid plastics, compost when possible, and make sure to recycle all materials that are permitted rather than throwing them in the trash. It is also important to upcycle or reuse an item when possible. For example, instead of throwing out a plastic snack container, turn it into functional storage, or when a clothing item becomes inadequate to wear, make it into rags for cleaning or sew it into a new item. There are many ways to reuse products, so have fun with it! Our business, Branching Together, was founded on the very concept of reusing waste, as we sought to repurpose waste from local businesses. Learn more by visiting our website, branchingtogether.com.
Another way to promote biodiversity is through native plants. If you have your own garden, consider planting only plants that are native to your region. This will promote soil health, carbon sequestration, and the overall ecosystem of the area where you reside. If you do not have your own garden, consider getting a plot in a community garden, or help family and friends when it comes time for planting to fill their garden spaces with native plants. To learn more about what plants are native to your area, call or visit a local plant nursery, do some investigating online, or reach out to your city’s Parks Department for a list of native plants. Also, having conversations with others about the importance of native plants is always a great way to spread the message and do your part.
An important part of biodiversity, especially as it relates to native plants, is pollinators. Supporting a diverse range of pollinators is essential for all life to thrive. Cultivating plants native to your region is an important way to preserve diverse pollinator life. A frequently overlooked aspect of supporting pollinators is through providing safe and easily accessible water sources. Like all life, pollinators require water to survive and thrive, but it is difficult for many pollinators to have adequate access to water, especially in cities. Due to this, Branching Together created a product, the Pollinator Water Bucket, that promotes the wellbeing of pollinators by providing a safe drinking source for them that fits easily into any space. It is essential that we all do our part to help pollinators flourish, as we depend on them for much of our sustenance.
Other ways you can personally address biodiversity endangerment is by seeking to support local, sustainable farms. Remember, local does not always mean sustainable, and vice versa. Research the farms where your food comes from, and if possible, incorporate support of regenerative practices into your food purchasing habits. Read more about this topic in this Branching Together article, which breaks down the misleading terms that exist in the agriculture marketplace.
Supporting sustainable agriculture is not an option for everyone, and that is not the consumer’s fault. The idea is to do the best you can in your current situation. A free way to advocate for food sovereignty is to contact local community food organizations, or just the nearest one to your city, and see what work is already being done. Typically, there are also ways to volunteer as much or as little time as you would like, such as through maintaining a garden, delivering imperfect foods, or making calls to political representatives.
Biodiversity teaches us the importance of interconnectedness. Keep that in mind with your personal actions and when considering what to support in your purchasing habits, politics, career, and even mentally on a daily basis. As we respect plant and animal species as essential to our ecosystems, humans too are included in this biodiversity, and we have the choice as to how we view our role. Visit branchingtogether.com for more resources and products to help you live your most sustainable life by supporting biodiversity.
Thank you so much for reading along!
Susie & Chey