Why care about bees and biodiversity?
By Sabiha Malik
Founder of The World Bee Project
The Global Assessment of Nature Report draws on 15,000 reference materials and has been compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This article draws from a number of the topics in this report.
Our lives depend on biodiversity
Biological diversity or biodiversity is the variety of all living things on Earth. 20,000+ bee species and other insect pollinators, like butterflies and moths, are vital for pollination. They all work together within ecosystems with animals, plants, fungi, and micro-organisms to create the web of life, providing us oxygen, fresh water, nutritious food, medicines, and myriads of life-enhancing benefits.
We need biodiversity
Although animals and plants provide us with all we need to survive, no single species can provide us with all benefits - we need a wide variety of animals and plants to work together and thrive.
Bees help biodiversity flourish
All species of bees, butterflies, moths, insects, and some birds, pollinate. Without pollination, plants would not be able to reproduce. Without bee-pollinated plants, we would not have the micro-nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit we need to eat to remain healthy. Plants also improve our physical environment - by cleaning the air we breathe, limiting rising temperatures and protecting against climate change. Trees in our cities absorb carbon dioxide and remove pollutants from the air. Our mangrove forests and coral reefs are barriers to erosion from rising sea levels.
Human actions are destroying biodiversity and species in more significant numbers than ever before
An average of 25% of animals and plants are under threat. Nobody measures global bee and pollinator population declines, but dramatic declines in some locations are well documented. The IPBES Report's authors say there are a few direct drivers of biodiversity loss, of which land use change is the primary one, followed by climate change and pollution. Over the years, forests have been cleared to feed, clothe, and provide energy to our rising populations. Since the 1700s, 87 % of wetlands have disappeared. Between 1980 and 2000, 100 million hectares of tropical forest were destroyed, mainly from cattle ranching in South America and palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia. Our urban areas have doubled since 1992. The world's population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has grown four-fold, and international trade has increased ten times.
World leaders are now being asked to sign up to a pledge to protect 30% of the world by 2030 through a ten-point plan that puts wildlife and the climate at the heart of recovery plans from the pandemic. They have to promise to address the likes of climate change, deforestation, ecosystem degradation and pollution. Scientists say a huge amount is at stake, but it is still possible to reverse the decline in nature if words and promises are acted upon.
What can we do?
Small individual actions can help. We can eat more vegetables. We can grow herbs in pots or window boxes if we don't have gardens. (Sage is said to improve general brain function. Pea shoots are delicious when snipped off and added to a salad.) If we have a green space, we can plant sunflowers rich in pollen and nectar; sunflowers remove toxic elements from the soil, like lead and uranium. In gardens, we can allow patches of 'weeds' such as white clover, common mallow, white dead nettles, common knapweed, and dandelions to grow. Pollinators love them.
We can stop using toxic pesticides and insecticides for pest control and instead use organic methods to protect plants. By encouraging natural predators (ladybirds, lacewings, hedgehogs, frogs), pests such as aphids and slugs can be naturally controlled.
Extremely hot weather is becoming more frequent. Hot temperatures are uncomfortable and potentially deadly for wildlife. Fortunately, you can give a helping hand with a few easy steps.
We can encourage local politicians to initiate policies that support nature and people.
We can also, for £1 monthly, join the World Bee Community to promote the well-being of ecosystems as a necessity for all people to thrive. We can tell our friends about it and start building a movement of people of all ages happy to support Pollinators, People, and the Planet!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sabiha Malik founded The World Bee Project CIC in 2014 to utilise AI and novel technologies to initiate a global perspective, addressing pollinator and biodiversity decline, food insecurity, climate change and threats to human wellbeing as a single interactive, interconnected challenge confronting humanity. Sabiha believes that bees lie at the heart of the relationships that bind the natural and human worlds, and in safeguarding bees lies the means to safeguard life itself.