All plant and animal species are interconnected and dependent on each other, thus forming a web of life. These connections create a more biologically diverse world with the ability to protect itself from harm such as viruses and wildfires. However, disrupting these connections reduces biodiversity and threatens human health, livelihoods and survival. These disruptions include population growth, pesticide use, monoculture farming and gardening, as well as climate change. In the last 40 years alone, the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the world has been cut in half. However, there are a number of ways you can help preserve biodiversity, be it by reducing your regular and agricultural use of pesticides, changing your consumption habits, and speaking in an informed way to the right people about the need for change..
Method 1 of 4: Foster local biodiversity
Step 1. Rethink the use of your lawn
Many people do not realize that by having a lawn they contribute to a monoculture in an important way. Many like to have a large area of grass that is easy to maintain and makes it a pleasant playground for children and pets. However, when you have a lawn, you choose the option to exclude the other types of plants.
Consider converting a portion of your lawn into a more diverse area. To do this, you can plant a flower garden, orchards, trees, or a variety of shrubs
Step 2. Diversify your garden
The more diversity in your garden and yard, the more resistant they will be to pests and diseases. Plant flowering trees, shrubs, and other plants and flowers to attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Choose flowering plants native to your region or plant clovers, alfalfa, and other flower-covered crops that attract bees, replenish nutrients, and prevent erosion.
You can selectively choose which pests and weeds you want to kill, preserving the most beneficial ones where possible to improve soil health and provide a habitat for insects and other necessary animals
Step 3. Accept the presence of weeds
Many of the plants that we consider "weeds" are beneficial to the biodiversity of the patios. Some of them are actually edible and can be a great (and free!) Addition to your diet! Even if you choose not to consume them, many insects will be able to eat the weeds and not your garden!
- Also, some weeds can deter pests from entering an area.
- Of course, you can "choose" which weeds will grow on your property. For example, you can get rid of poison ivy, but keep dandelions or thistle. Encouraging the development of biodiversity does not mean letting all species of plants or animals grow free on your land.
Step 4. Consume Consciously
In addition to promoting biodiversity in your own garden, you can promote regional biodiversity by purchasing a variety of local fruits and vegetables. Most localities (even urban settings) have farmers markets, points where local farmers sell what they produce, bakery products, meat, eggs and dairy products in one place.
- By buying as much of your food as possible at a local farmers market, you will be boosting the economy of a locality, you will discover the details related to growing food and you will also have the opportunity to learn about fruits and vegetables that perhaps never before. have you tried.
- Developing a relationship with the person who grows your food will also allow you to request different procedures, such as the minimum or no use of pesticides, meat from animals without hormones and a greater diversity of products.
Step 5. Increase biodiversity in urban landscapes
Diversifying bioculture in agricultural fields, lawns and gardens is critical to protecting biodiversity, although there are many places in urban areas to pay attention to as well. Making the effort to plant flowers, flowering plants, alfalfa, and clovers in urban areas can make a huge difference to urban biodiversity. A variety of plants can be grown along paths, on power lines, in community gardens, between the street and the driveway, etc. Encouraging a variety of flowering plants will attract pollinators, and you can reduce invasive and harmful species without even using pesticides.
Urban areas also need a large number of trees. To attract birds, you need caterpillars, and to attract caterpillars, you have to plant the right trees. Oak trees are especially useful as they are native trees to an area
Method 2 of 4: Reduce Pesticide Use
Step 1. Learn about pesticide use
The word "pesticide" is a general term for herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and more. Its use began in the 1960s and served to kill weeds, insects, fungi, plant diseases, rodents that damage crops, lawns and gardens. Since its introduction, researchers have documented widespread pesticide contamination in soil, waterways, groundwater, air, animals, plants, and even humans. Studies have also revealed that pesticides can kill key species that they are not supposed to target, such as earthworms, spiders, termites, honey bees, and microorganisms such as bacteria, which are essential links in the food chain.
- For example, honey bees and wild bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that make up 90% of the world's food supply. However, since 2011, there has been a worrying reduction in the honey bee population in Mexico.
- The most recent studies indicate that a widely used type of pesticide for crops and lawns or gardens (called "neonicotinoid") is directly related to the reduction of honey bee colonies.
- In 2013, the European Union issued a 2-year ban on three of the neonicotinoids used in flower crops that attract bees. However, several member countries lifted the ban on certain crops.
- While the US has not put in place a similar ban, environmental organizations are pushing hard for one to be imposed. If you live in that country, you can help by joining or donating to those organizations.
Step 2. Reduce your own pesticide use
Studies by the U. S. Geological Survey found that urban waterways were as polluted, and in some cases more heavily, with pesticides as those found in rural areas. In fact, the presence of pesticides was found in 99% of the water and in fish samples taken from urban streams. The levels generally also exceed those used as guides for the protection of aquatic life. However, there are ways you can prevent the situation from getting worse, for example, you can reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides for lawn care.
- Don't use pesticides on your lawn. Many people turn to specialized companies that spray their lawns with pesticides that limit or eliminate weed growth and the presence of insects. Stopping this type of treatment (as well as abandoning the lawn monoculture) can greatly improve your local biodiversity.
- Ventilate your lawn when the soil is compacted so that water, nutrients, and air can seep in and encourage root growth. Water well before using a basic mechanical aerator, hand-held aerator, or tooth shovel to create 6 to 12 mm (¼ to ½ inch) diameter holes approximately 4 inches (10 cm) deep and 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) apart. Take the soil samples and leave them on your lawn to later place the seeds or fertilizer.
Step 3. Control weeds without using pesticides
You can remove weeds by pulling them up, smothering them with ground cover such as clover and several layers of newspaper, or adding vinegar. You can also create physical barriers, for example you can put up borders and retaining walls, plant flowers and garden crops that prevent weeds from getting sunlight, water and nutrients, or keep a thick grass that dislodges them.
Step 4. Keep pests out of your garden without using pesticides
Maintaining a diverse garden can naturally control pests. You can also place plants everywhere and around the perimeter of your garden to repel insects. Good alternatives include calendula, asters, cosmos, garlic, chives, garden savory, rosemary, petunia, thyme, rue, nasturtium, tansy, dahlias, and euphoria.
- Let natural predators like ladybugs, ground beetles, and praying mantises help you take care of problems.
- Use physical deterrents to prevent invasion by pests. Staple asphalt cloth in the shape of a cylinder and place it around the base of an affected plant. You can mix wood ash with water to create a paste and apply it around the base of the trees to prevent borers from sticking to them.
Step 5. Use household items to minimize the presence of unwanted insects
There are many kitchen items that can help you eliminate insects from plants. Mix one tablespoon of peppermint castile soap with ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and about 1/2 gallon (2 liters) of water, and spray the mixture on the infested plants. Use chili powder to get rid of ants or soak their mounds with boiling water.
To manually remove insects, you can also spray soapy water on plants, set traps or decoy boxes with a non-volatile chemical such as boric acid, and sprinkle boric acid into crevices and crevices to reach ants, cockroaches, and silverfish
Step 6. Check with your local farmers about the pesticides they use
If you want to promote local biodiversity by shopping at a farmers market, be sure to ask local farmers about the nature and amount of pesticides they use. Shop where farmers limit pesticide use and make it clear that you prefer to buy pesticide-free food. Spending money on a product you support is like voting with your pocketbook. Food producers will change their practices to meet the demands of conscientious consumers.
Step 7. Buy organic food products
If you can't buy at a farmers market, try buying organic food at the grocery store. While organic foods may not be completely pesticide-free, they are subject to minimum pesticide use standards (including a long list of banned fertilizers and pesticides).
Step 8. Understand the composition of genetically modified crops
Genetically modified (GM) crops emerged in part to meet growing human demands for natural resources. In particular, GM crops were designed in 1996 to resist poisonous glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundupⓇ (Monsanto's trademark) to kill weeds. In the US, the RoundupⓇ herbicide is the most widely used in agribusiness. In this country, since 2008 it has been recorded that almost 90% of all soybean and cotton crops are transgenic, while more than 60% are also transgenic corn. This type of monoculture agriculture has greatly benefited large agribusiness, but it has also devastated family farming and led to a decline in biodiversity.
- The latter can also be attributed to the development of resistance among transgenic crops and the resulting increase in herbicide use (from about 11,000 tons [25 million pounds] a year for soybeans, corn, and cotton in 1996 to more than of 61,000 tonnes [135 million pounds] per year in 2007).
- Like neonicotinoids, studies have found that glyphosate has contaminated waterways, soil, air, groundwater, and our food.
- It has also caused a decrease in beneficial insects, alterations in the human endocrine system, is linked to cancer and kidney disease, and could even cause damage to human DNA.
Step 9. Know which species are invasive
An invasive species can be a plant or an animal that is not local, but comes from a distant place. This species can reproduce too quickly and put the native ecosystem at risk in many ways. Don't buy any invasive species for pets or food. A common pet that is an invasive species is the red-eared slider. If you already have an invasive pet, don't leave it out in the wild, and reconsider buying more!
Step 10. Eat less meat or consider going vegetarian
To produce livestock, a large amount of grain is used. These grains generally come from conventional farms where pesticides (which reduce biodiversity) are used.
Method 3 of 4: Defend biodiversity
Step 1. Reduce your dependence on GM crops
Because of these problems and their potentially catastrophic consequences, scientists, environmental activists, educators, etc. they have demanded the complete eradication of GM crops. However, agribusiness has been vehemently opposed and, in conjunction with other scientists and many legislators, asserts that GM crops are necessary to sustain the growth of the world's population, which has doubled since 1970 to 7 billion and has expects it to reach 9 billion by 2050. For this reason, in Mexico, for example, the Union of Scientists Committed to Society (UCCS) has been trying to collect 1 million signatures for the "No to transgenic corn" campaign to pressure to the government, which you can support with your online signature.
- Expands funding for research to develop public crops so that farmers can better diversify them and find less damaging means of controlling pests, weeds, droughts, etc.
- Increase funding for research and incentives to enable further development and adoption of agroecology-based agriculture, which focuses on nutrient and energy recycling, species diversification, crop rotation, and integration of crops and livestock.
- Enacts measures, such as making changes to patent laws, supporting independent research on the risks and benefits of genetically modified crops.
- Be more rigorous in independently reviewing approvals for GM products so they don't hit the market until you better understand the risks and benefits.
- Create and support food labeling laws so consumers know when they eat food that contains GM crops.
Step 2. Create a persuasive message
Most people will agree that they want a world with a varied natural environment for their grandchildren. However, it is perfectly reasonable to ask, "Why does it matter so much? Why should we make sacrifices to protect it?" These are the things to note when disseminating information about biodiversity:
- Biodiversity has an effect on local and global economies. Humans make a lot of money from biologically diverse ecosystems. Medicines, luxury items, some foods and money from tourism depend in some way on the maintenance of biologically diverse ecosystems around the world.
- Biodiversity in nature protects our food supply. Most people in the world get most of their food from just a few sources (usually wheat, corn, or rice). Today, scientists use genes from wild plants to ensure the survival of these crops against disease, drought and other problems (similar processes are used for livestock that provide us with meat).
- The introduction of invasive species into natural habitats by humans can alter local ecosystems and deteriorate biodiversity.
- Biodiversity can protect us from costly disasters. For example, a study found that replacing natural grasslands with agricultural meadows made areas more vulnerable to fire and drought. Another study found that islands with great diversity were less vulnerable to tropical cyclones.
- Monocultures devastate natural ecosystems. Crop diversification, crop rotation, and reduced indiscriminate logging make ecosystems much more resistant to damage when a damaging event occurs.
- The Great Irish Famine is a perfect example of the tremendous failure of monoculture agriculture in which the country's farmers depended on only one type of potato. When the disease spread across the country and the environment changed, these potatoes were almost completely eradicated, leaving people with little or nothing to eat.
- Areas with high biodiversity are also prone to high genetic diversity. This means that individual species in the ecosystem have a greater variety of genes. Over time, this will contribute to the creation of new species through the process of evolution.
Step 3. Find out what happens in your locality to protect biodiversity
Before reinventing the wheel, determine what measures (if any) are being taken to protect and enhance biodiversity. When you know this, you will be able to better assess the most pressing issues in your area, focus your efforts, and present a more persuasive, knowledge-based argument to drive change in local businesses and municipalities.
Step 4. Make important connections
Some people in the local community can be especially helpful allies in advancing the cause of preserving biodiversity. In general, they are people who have specialized knowledge related to environmental problems, who have experience in organizing and who have power. The following are some examples:
- Political Activists: They can help get the message across to important voters, organize rallies, gain access to local politicians, etc.
- Professors specialized in life sciences: they can offer their knowledge and experience in relation to the specific aspects of efforts to conserve biodiversity.
- Environmental lawyers: they know all the legal challenges (and opportunities) to the point of making your environmental mission a reality.
- Community leaders - They have the power and influence to get you local support.
Step 5. Lobby the government
Ultimately, many environmental problems are in the hands of people who wield power in society. Local, provincial and national politicians are particularly important in the mission of maintaining biodiversity. These people have the power to write, interpret, and enforce laws around environmental issues. Therefore, an effective tactic to obtain new environmental policies is to directly pressure politicians. In other words, you need to convince them that your environmental mission is a good idea.
- To do this, you can create a petition, have as many people as possible sign it, and then submit it to your local government. To make a good petition, read the article "How to write a petition."
- Another good way to get the political results you want is to raise money for the election campaign of a politician who agrees with you. That politician will have the obligation to try to pass legislation that favors you in case he is elected again.
- Remember: most politicians get their motivation from the votes. Ultimately, your goal should be to convince the politician you pressure that supporting your environmental mission would win him votes (and, of course, going against it would lose them).
- If you can't find politicians sympathetic to your cause, consider creating an environmental platform yourself.
Step 6. Spread the word
The more people you reach, the better your chances of achieving the changes in biodiversity you seek. Spreading your mission is crucial to being successful. Fortunately, there are many ways to do it. The following are some ideas:
- Use social media. Today, people spend a large part of their time on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, among others. A campaign conducted through social media can help you capture the attention of thousands of Internet browsers, thereby increasing awareness and support for biodiversity. Read the article "How to use social media to incentivize political change" for more information.
- Speak at local events. At local community gatherings (such as church services, town hall meetings, public events, etc.) respectable causes are often given the opportunity to speak for free or at low cost. Take advantage of most of these opportunities to bring the biodiversity issue directly to community members.
- Use local proselytizing. Home visits and leaflet distribution are outdated methods of raising awareness of biodiversity-related issues, but they can still be effective.
Step 7. Support environmental organizations
There are many organizations that are already struggling with these problems. Many of them are very powerful, but they cannot continue the fight or be politically effective without the funding or voluntary support of the people. The following website contains names and contact information for a number of environmental organizations:
Step 8. Start your own environmental organization
Once you understand the issues concerning local biodiversity, you can explore the possibility of taking action on a larger scale. A good way to do this is to start an environmental organization dedicated to making the changes that are most important to you. By including other people in your mission, you will gain respect and legitimacy. The strength is in the numbers and powerful people tend to listen to organizations with many members.
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach to an environmental organization. Yours can focus on a specific problem (like saving local swamps from encroaching development) or a broad one (like raising awareness of environmental issues in general).
- The important thing is to choose a goal that you have a reasonable chance of achieving. For example, a local organization with 100 members will have a difficult time fighting for a global carbon tax.
Method 4 of 4: Help the Environment
Step 1. Be an informed consumer
One of the most fundamental tools to combat the loss of global biodiversity is your pocketbook. Try to buy only products and services taking into account the environmental health of the planet. Avoid buying products from companies whose practices threaten global biodiversity. Remember, companies sell what people want to buy, so tell them you want products that do not harm biodiversity.
Learn about eco-brands before making big purchases. If you're not sure how to do it, this article lists a good selection of environmentally responsible companies
Step 2. Follow the rule of the three r's (3R)
There is no way around it: since the beginning of our history, human beings have always created a lot of garbage. However, today, the massive amounts of waste that are produced on a global scale are a major threat to biodiversity. By following this rule you can minimize the impact of the waste you generate. The rule of the three r's is as follows:
reduce your consumption. Do not buy products that you do not need. When buying something, opt for items that generate a minimum amount of garbage. For example, buy things with limited packaging (or none at all) rather than things that come in lots of boxes or containers. The less garbage you generate, the less you contribute to biodiversity loss when natural habitats are used as landfills.
Reduce the amount of items you dispose of by using them more than once. A simple example is taking a backpack or reusable bag to the supermarket to avoid using new bags. Read the articles in the "Home Organization and Recycling" category for more ideas. Again, less garbage means less loss of biodiversity from expanding landfills.
When you have to dispose of something, recycle it so it can become useful again instead of ending up in a landfill. Click on this link for a good recycling guide.
Step 3. Practice organic eating strategies at home
There are many other ways to promote global biodiversity. Best of all, many of them are things you can do at home. For example, reducing your dependence on cash crops reduces the destruction of natural habitats for agricultural purposes. Read on for some easy tips.
- Start a garden with your family or your community. Less demand from large-scale agriculture means less habitat loss and fewer displaced native species.
- Use compost at home. You can add compost to your family or community garden to improve your harvest. This further reduces dependence on commercial agriculture. Even better, it's great for recycling organic waste and kitchen scraps!
Step 4. Reduce your carbon emissions
We've all heard it hundreds of times: burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment. While human-generated carbon emissions have undoubtedly been linked to climate change, many are unaware that they also have a direct impact on the planet's biodiversity. Climate change leads to habitat loss and more stressful environmental conditions that put species at risk on the brink of extinction. Therefore, slowing climate change by reducing emissions is an effective way to preserve biodiversity. Usually it is possible to do this by reducing the energy we use. For example, you can take the following actions:
- Buy a car that produces little or no emissions.
- Carpooling on your daily commute to save money and reduce fuel consumption.
- Walk or bike instead of driving.
- Use energy-efficient electronics to reduce carbon emissions. For example, in the US, electronic devices made to use a minimal amount of electricity are labeled "ENERGY STAR" by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Look for this tag.
- Buy an efficient heating and thermal insulation system for your home in order to reduce energy consumption.
- Take into account alternative sources of energy at home, such as solar panels, which used to be too expensive for many people but are becoming more affordable every year.
- To fully understand the impact of a monoculture, request a soil test on your lawn and a comparison with the soil in a local natural area, such as a forest.
- Plant trees in your garden, your locality or internationally through an organization. Unfortunately, many trees are cut down to produce toilet paper, printing paper, and boxes. Use recycled toilet paper, as well as other recycled products from this material.