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BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Miss Matamela Nengudza is a member of SAYCCC Advisory Team Member and Biodiversity Content Lead, she is based in Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province.

What is biodiversity? 

Biological diversity is the interconnectedness of human and natural systems, it is essential for the processes that support all life on earth. Without a wide range of animals, plants and micro-organisms, we cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we rely on to provide us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. And people also value nature of itself. Biodiversity is the primary source of Earth’s biosphere – the life web that produces everything humans need most: food, water, many modern medicines, and air.


In the climate change context, we stress the importance of biodiversity conservation, which is also referred to as environmental conservation. Biodiversity conservation is the practice of protecting and preserving the wealth and variety of species, habitats, ecosystems and genetic diversity on the planet. It plays an important role in supporting development of our daily lives. We depend on natural resources for survival like food production. Biodiversity conservation protects both the living, non-living and micro-organisms. Unsustainable agricultural production use of wild species for food or fuel can lead to loss of biodiversity. Conservation helps to address the effects of climate change. It also address the mismanagement of natural resources, and involves local communities by providing information on how to protect their resources from misuse due to development. 

Why is biodiversity conservation important? 

Ecosystem services are the engine of the environment. They are essential to life. Land, water, air, climate and genetic resources must be used responsibly if they are to also benefit future generations. Nature has many benefits to humans systems. From the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, nature enhances our wellbeing and freely provides the essentials for our survival. This is why biodiversity conservation is important.


Biodiversity is an essential part of the solution to climate change. 

In a landmark study published in 2017, a group of researchers led by Bronson Griscom, who researches natural climate solutions at Conservation International, discovered that nature can deliver at least 30 percent of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to prevent climate catastrophe. Protecting biodiversity plays a crucial part in achieving these emissions reductions. For an example, trees and all other plants are natural carbon sinks, which means they can store carbon in their tissue and transform their into fresh air or oxygen. 


Human activities such as the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and unsustainable agriculture contribute to climate change, which decreases the availability of nutritious food and clean water, and destroys ecosystems and secure living environments. This leads to malnutrition, ill health and migration, rendering youth particularly vulnerable. At the same time, youth constitute the majority of the population in many countries and have an increasingly strong social and environmental awareness, which has the power to transform our societies towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future. 

The changes in our planet are here, we need to mitigate and adapt to them. Climate change mitigation means avoiding and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to prevent the planet from warming to more harsh temperatures. Climate change adaptation means altering our behaviour, systems and find ways to protect our families, economy and the environment in which we live from the impacts of climate change.

We must transit from powering our world with fossil fuels to using clean, renewable energy. Stop deforestation to restore our natural habitats until we reach net-zero carbon emissions. Climate change affects where we grow food, how much water we have and where we can build our homes. Adapting to climate change will require to have an understanding of local risks and developing plan to manage them. Diversifying crops that can tolerate warmer, drier or wetter conditions; ensuring that our planners can develop infrastructure that can withstand more extreme weather conditions; and making sure that we manage our natural resources in the context of climate change.

Conclusion 

The misuse of natural resources for human benefit cause alterations in an ecosystem. Some species in the ecosystem decline and some ecosystem functions alter too; biodiversity, therefore, is usually seen to deteriorate from the viewpoint of one value system or another. Resource use generates short-term returns: the benefits can be realised quickly, restoration is much more expensive, and the costs of biodiversity decline become obvious and occur only slowly. Everyone has a role to play in the ecosystem. As humans, we have been part of the problem of climate change, it’s time to be a solution. Recreate a balance relationship with the ecosystem that sustain us. A clean air means healthy lungs.