There are simple things we can do to benefit biodiversity. Learn how.
Biodiversity is complicated. It’s the rich variety of animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms function in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life.
Think of it like a city with diverse residents, each playing a unique role. Just as the city thrives when everyone contributes, Earth's ecosystems flourish when each species fulfills its ecological niche.
Preserving biodiversity is critically important because we all rely on it to survive. We need functioning biodiversity for clean air, healthy soil, modern medicine, food on our plates, and a resilient Earth that can respond to threats like climate change.
Unfortunately, it is under threat. Australia is recognised as having the highest mammal extinction rate in the world. In SA, more than 1,100 of our native plant and animal species are threatened with extinction.
This is largely caused by how we misuse the Earth. The main drivers of biodiversity loss are human led activities including unsustainable land-use practices, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. The impacts of climate change are exacerbating this.
It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with this reality. You may be wondering what, if anything, you can do. The good news is that there are small, everyday changes you can take to play your part in protecting and conserving our biodiversity.
Here are 10 simple (and fun) ways you can improve biodiversity.
- Plant natives in your backyard: When planning your garden, consider going native! Go one better by choosing plants that are native to your local area. Check out the Botanic Gardens of South Australia’s Plant Selector tool to find out what your local natives are.
- Create a natural habitat: Encourage native wildlife into your garden by providing and maintaining areas of suitable natural habitat, such as nest boxes.
- Keep the ‘wild’ in wildlife: Throwing a few hot chips to the seagulls or leaving water out for your neighbourhood natives can cause more harm than good. Feeding wildlife can expose animals to risks including disease, they may even forget how to find their own food. Learn more about how to keep the wild in our wildlife.
- Support the bushland in your backyard with a grant: Do you own a property that has native bushland or have seen threatened plants and animals? If so, you might be eligible to enter into a Native Vegetation Heritage Agreement to help you maintain and enhance areas of native vegetation on your property.
- Say no thanks to plastic: Single-use plastics can end up in the wild, causing big problems for animals and the environment. Reduce plastic waste by opting for reusable alternatives and discover 6 ways you can go plastic-free.
- Get science-y: Citizen science is a way for the public to get involved in projects that monitor plants and animals. If being on the lookout for lizards or listening out for frog calls sounds like your thing, you get involved in a number of ongoing projects.
- Knowledge is power: Educate yourself about local biodiversity and the challenges it faces. Share your discoveries with friends and family – the more, the merrier! Learn about the new BioData SA as a starting point.
- Prevent a cat-astrophy: If you have a cat, keep it inside. We love them, but their hunting instincts can spell trouble for local birds and small critters. Keeping them home also keeps them safer.
- Help clean up: You can help keep our world free from litter by participating in local clean-up events like Clean Up Australia Day (takes place on the first Sunday in March).
- Have your say: The state government is developing a Biodiversity Act – the first of its kind in our state – with an aim to prioritise the protection and recovery of our biodiversity for the long-term. They’re consulting now on what this Act might look like. From our livelihoods to the economy and health and wellbeing, the biodiversity issue is one that affects you. Consider taking time today to have your say on what you want this important piece of legislation to look like.
There you have it, small but mighty steps to save our planet's biodiversity. Remember, you don't need to do everything at once. Start with one step, then another, and soon you'll be on your way to making a real difference. Let's come together and protect the wonderful web of life that sustains us all!
Main image credit: Martin Stokes
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