International Day for Biological Diversity, better known as World Biodiversity Day, is observed on the 22nd of May to recognize and bring awareness to the multitude of threats to survival that Earth’s wildlife and ecosystems face as a direct result of human activities. The standard logo features a polar bear, a goose, a bee orbiting a tree, and a child holding a flower. These elements are integrated to create four interlocking puzzle pieces representing the interconnected nature of these aspects; nature based solutions to climate change, the transboundary nature of conservation of imperiled species, and the economic, cultural and health benefits we get from nature.
The United Nations through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) invited parties to create nationalized logos to better represent species endemic to their countries. This year the Biological Conservation and Management Section of the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification, Green and Blue Economy developed a national logo for World Biodiversity Day. It features a Barbados leaf-toed gecko, a hawksbill turtle, flowers from a Metastelma barbadensis vine, and an Agave barbadensis in bloom visited by a bee/bat.
The Barbados leaf-toed gecko is a Critically Endangered species only found in Barbados. It is threatened not only by human development destroying natural habitat but also by invasive species which prey on or compete with them for food. The only way this species will be preserved into the future is to protect its coastal habitats from encroaching development. It was chosen as these protective measures not only protect this species, but also the other species and ecosystems they share habitat with. This strategy of not just species protection but also ecosystem protection has benefits to humans also.
The hawksbill turtle nests in high densities along the south and west coasts of the island. Barbados hosts the second largest population of nesting female hawksbills in the Western Hemisphere. Through these nests, turtles transport nutrients from the sea to the land which supports vegetation growth and improves resilience from erosion. Through protection of coastal habitat, we not only protect turtle nesting grounds but also ourselves by improving the resilience of our coastlines to rising sea levels.
Agave is a native species that would benefit from habitat protections that also bears beautiful yellow blooms. These flowers support pollinators such as bees and bats which benefit people as they also pollinate our crops and gardens. Bats also serve an important ecological role by controlling insects. These are the secondary benefits of ecosystem conservation, supporting ecosystem services that we take for granted.
Finally, Metastelma barbadensis is an endemic species of vine which grows in our forests. While forest area in Barbados has grown sevenfold in the last 50 years, this vine unique to Barbados is still very rare. Forests, particularly old growth forest, not only absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but they also stabilize the soil and limit potential damage from flooding by absorbing rain through their roots and leaf litter. If well managed, groves can even provide high quality timber for housing and furniture manufacture. Forests also provide green spaces for enjoyment by people, the positive effects of forests on emotional wellbeing and mental health are well studied.