The holiday, celebrated around the world on May 22, was established by the UN General Assembly exactly 20 years ago. The proclaimed resolution commemorated the 1992 Nairobi conference at which the effects of work on an international agreement in the field of biodiversity protection were presented.
Why is biodiversity important? To put it simply - because it is necessary for the survival of mankind. We derive many basic resources from nature, such as food, building materials, heat energy and the active substances of many medicines. Despite the enormous technological progress, we are completely dependent on vibrant ecosystems. This year's slogan of the Day - "Our solutions are in nature" - emphasizes the hope, solidarity and importance of cooperation at all levels to build life in harmony with nature.
We too often forget how much we owe to nature. Our industrialized societies take biodiversity for granted, seeing it as free and everlasting. In reality, however, we are putting increasingly more pressure on the environment, and many aspects of human activities are threatening the existence of numerous species to a high degree.
The list of factors that negatively affect biodiversity is long and includes activities such as the destruction and separation of ecosystems, air, water and soil pollution, overfishing and over-exploitation of natural resources, forests and land, the introduction of alien species into ecosystems, and the emission of increasing amounts of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
Janez Potočnik, the European Commissioner for the Environment, said: "Man-made pressure on many ecosystems is growing. Because of this, their functioning deteriorates, and sometimes they are even on the verge of falling. This process, called the loss of biodiversity, is one of the all-too-common phenomena. For this reason, the European Union has decided to end the loss of biodiversity. Over the past 25 years, within its borders, the EU has created a network of 26,000 protected areas covering over 850 thousand km². This system, known as Natura 2000, is the world's largest network of protected areas and is a testament to the importance we give to biodiversity. "
In Poland, many Natura 2000 areas feature aquatic and water-dependent ecosystems, such as bogs, floodplains, and marshes. In total, these areas cover 4.4 million ha in Poland (approx. 14% of the country's area) and they all play an important role in maintaining biodiversity. One should be aware that the degree of threat to many of them is significant and that most coastal and marine coastal ecosystems have been identified as endangered. Some of them - e.g. undersea meadows, salt-loving rushes and coastal pastures - belong to the most endangered and the fastest disappearing ecosystems of Poland. On the other hand, we can boast of considerable resources of lowland peat bogs, in particular - alkaline flow moors, riparian forests, and lake ecosystems.
We all have something to care for and each of us can contribute to protecting biodiversity. There are many ways, those related to water include:
Limiting the pollution of nature with medicines
Even after their treatment in sewage treatment plants, wastewater discharged into rivers contains certain amounts of phosphates, solvents, surfactants and other chemicals present in modern detergents. These factors can seriously affect biodiversity - the aquatic environment in particular. They are also hazardous to our health! What can we do? Let's choose organic detergents with the appropriate markings. First of all: avoid excessive use of cleaning agents. Let's reverse the trend and use them in small quantities!
Buying fish responsibly
Bluefin tuna, cod, salmon, common sole, monkfish ... It is recommended not to consume these species anymore because overfishing, harvesting periods (sometimes during the full spawning season), as well as some fishing methods (damaging the seabed or causing accidental catches of juveniles) threaten their recovery. It is necessary to give fish time to rebuild the population, which is why we should eat fish and crustaceans belonging to species not threatened by extinction. We can also buy products from local fisheries or labeled as MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). More information about this labeling can be found here: www.msc.org.
In Poland, the highest threat categories include bi-environmental species of fish - Atlantic sturgeon, salmon, sea lamprey, twait shad, shad, allis shad, vimba bream, river lamprey, as well as the huchen.
Limiting the consumption of drinking water
Water is necessary for maintaining the balance of our planet and its inhabitants, both animals and plants. There is enough water for everyone, but unfortunately its sources are unevenly distributed and often poorly managed. In our latitudes, it is enough to open the tap to have access to drinking water. As such, we use it for everything, and that's not what we should do! To save drinking water resources, we can, among others, water plants with rainwater and at the end of the day (to avoid evaporation), we can also recover used domestic water (after washing dishes, bathing, showering) to flush the toilet, clean the floor, and even - after filtering - we can use it to water plants.
"Biodiversity is a common good, an invaluable legacy created over millions of years, and capital to be passed on to future generations. (...) This International Day aims to raise awareness of these issues that are key to our lives today and in the future. On this day, a beautiful American-Indian proverb is particularly appropriate: We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. " - said Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO on the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity.
The year 2020 is a year when, more than ever before, the world can signal its strong will to create a global framework that will change the trend of biodiversity loss for the benefit of people and life on Earth. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the International Day for Biological Diversity 2020 will be celebrated as part of the first-ever online campaign. More information about the celebration is available on the following platforms: ...
The text was prepared on the basis of:
- the materials of the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission. (permission to use: Copyright © 2009 Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique, © European Union, 2011)
- RESOLUTION NO. 213 OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS of 6 November 2015 on the approval of the "Program for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity together with the Action Plan for 2015-2020"
- parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity: https://www.cbd.int/idb/2020
- supplementary materials: Convention on Biological Diversity