By Tadd Andersen
I recently saw a World Economic Forum video that described how Germany has been replacing its dying forests with ‘Mediterranean trees to help its forests survive climate change’. Essentially, the warmer climate in Germany has introduced pests and conditions that are killing off the native trees. The solution to replace them with warm climate trees is genius, I thought.
But replacing the trees will mean that the cold climate trees will eventually disappear. Since it is Biodiversity Month, it’s worth thinking about the potential loss of tree species, and indeed any species, that makes Earth its home.
Here are five things we can do to help project biodiversity:
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of all living things; the different plants, animals and micro organisms, the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form.
Source: Australian Museum
1. Preserve native habitats around us
Experts agree that overexploitation of the Earth’s resources is one of the leading causes of species loss. Exploitation can mean clearing of land (for agriculture, housing and development), extracting resources, damaging waterways, fishing, hunting and deforestation (timber, firewood).
Generally, the species most likely to face extinction are those located in small numbers, in unique locations and don’t adapt to new environments easily.
So, the most important thing we can do is to preserve the existing populations and their ecosystem. As individuals, planting native trees and shrubs in our gardens is a great way to help a healthy habitat for wildlife, birds and insects.
2. Reduce the amount of pollution we generate
The second leading cause of species loss is pollution. In this context, pollution can be emissions that pollute the air (vehicle, factory), rubbish in landfills, non-degrading plastics in soil and waterways, toxins leaching into soils and waterways.
It is a global problem but it is everyone's responsibility to refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and compost to help limit polution. Little things like eliminating single use plastics, straws and coffee cups, buying local produce, walking or cycling instead of hopping in the car, disposing of batteries and chemicals properly, can go a long way if we all do them.
For more ideas on how to play your part, visit Clean up Australia.
3. Plant native trees
When it comes to plants, we should use native species in our cities and yards as much as possible. For instance, instead of using an exotic tree species planted along a residential street, why don’t we use a mixture of native trees with a variety of native shrub and groundcovers?
Even in an uban environment, native plants will provide habitat, shelter and food for wildlife. They are also generally better suited to dry conditions and can survive with rainfall alone. So if you're not the best at gardening, native trees are the way to go - easy to grow and they don't need constant water (or care).
4. Grow native shrubs in our gardens
There are fantastic plants that are natives to where you live. These can provide a garden that is as beautiful as any other. Some people tend to prefer the vast lawn with clipped hedges – mainly because that’s what we’ve been trained to think is the best garden. But what could be better than a smaller lawn that is bordered with layers of native plants that flower and attract birds and insects to the garden to enjoy?
5. Learn about native species, from flowers to trees, insects to animals
I was taught as a kid, the more we know about something, the more we tend to appreciate it. And for me it holds true, especially when talking about the environment and biodiversity. Learning about a plant, insect or animal helps us understand where it lives, why it’s important to the ecosystem and how to help it thrive.
Australia has some amazing and some very weird wildlife, check out some of our favourites here.
I challenge you to implement one or more of these tips at your home to help protect Australia’s precious biodiversity.
About the writer
Tadd Andersen has worked on rehabilitating desert environments in the American south-west and the Middle East. He has played an integral role in designing the successful breading habitat for the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog in the Hunter region of NSW and a range of habitats for migratory birds. Tadd is passionate about restoring native habitat and enhancing biodiversity in his projects.
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