Celebrating Environment Month 2021
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration
The Ministry of Environment and National Beautification and artists in Barbados celebrate Environment Month 2021.
Oftentimes capturing the good, the bad and the ugly. Always awakening our sense to the amazing flora and fauna in Barbados and the critical role we humans play in preserving, enhancing and restoring our environment.
Many artists are inspired by nature and the interaction of man in nature.
It is through the images of these artistic creations; paintings, photographs, sculpture and digital art, that we will explore the idea of biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration in Art, which is the theme for Environment Month 2021.
‘Variety is the Spice of life’ an old saying, definitely rings true when we embrace environmental sustainability. The diversity within our ecosystems is tantamount to the survival of the system and to our human existence.
Biodiversity refers to the incredibly rich variety of life on Earth.
Formally defined as ‘the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.’
The biodiversity exist within the many ecosystems in Barbados.
We are totally dependent on these ecosystems which provide us with raw materials for consumption and production and the environment for tourism.
Biodiversity ensures that we have oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest control, wastewater treatment and many ecosystem services.
Ecosystems provide us with outlets for Recreation: many recreational pursuits rely on biodiversity, such as birdwatching, sea bathing, hiking, camping and fishing.
Ecosystems have cultural significance. They provide spiritual and recreational benefits.
In the scientific world, biodiversity represents a wealth of systematic ecological data that help us to understand the natural world and its origins.
Any loss or deterioration in the condition of biodiversity can compromise all the values previously outlined and affect human wellbeing.
Nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been altered by humans to meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials, highways and homes.
There is a growing need for ecosystem restoration as a way to enhance and protect our biodiversity and simply our way of life.
2021-2030 is the UN Decade on Ecosystem restoration. This is a global mobilisation call for the protection and revival of degraded ecosystems worldwide, for the benefit of people and nature. The year 2030 is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.
It aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction and its success is based on individuals working together for the common goal.
The Decade is being led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO).
Importance of Ecosystems
Ecosystems support all life on Earth and the healthier ecosystems are, the healthier the planet, and its people.
Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact.
Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes, increases food security, helps biodiversity to recover, strengthens nature’s defences to natural disasters and extreme weather events, locks away the atmospheric carbon warming the Earth, slowing climate change and reinforcing a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also reduces close contact between wildlife and human settlements, creating a natural buffer against zoonotic diseases.
Ecosystem restoration is both urgent and important for a swift recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.
Examples of Ecosystem Restoration Activities
- Reducing tillage
- Adopting natural fertilisers and pest control
- Using crop rotations, and growing more diverse crops, including trees, and integrating them with livestock-rearing can restore biodiversity and provide more nutritious diets.
- Alliances between farmers and pastoralists are being formalised to allow the sharing of resources with livestock being grazed on cropland after harvest.
- All these steps can revive the land, rebuilding the organic carbon stores and microorganisms that soak up water and maintain the natural fertility of our soils.
- Planting native tree species
- Conservation of wild plants and animals
- Protecting the soils and water resources in the forest
- Regenerate tree cover in disused agricultural land
- Sustainable fishing
- Re-seeding or transplanting key species
- Treat pollutants before they reach the ocean and keep out solid waste completely
- Carefully manage marine and coastal ecosystems
- Green spaces need to be placed at the heart of urban planning
- Civic groups and municipal authorities can clean up waterways, plant trees and create urban woodland and other wildlife habitat in parks, schools and other public spaces
- Permeable sidewalks and urban wetlands can protect against flooding and pollution
- Contaminated industrial areas can be rehabilitated and turned into urban nature reserves and places for recreation and relaxation
Grasslands, shrublands, savannahs
- Restoring shrublands, grasslands and savannahs means working with those using the land – pastoralists or others
- The extraction of resources such as water and wood, wildlife, minerals, or non-timber forest products, needs to remain sustainable
- Strengthening governance systems, such as secure tenure and participatory rangeland management is equally important.
How does the Ministry work to ensure biodiversity?
- Barbados is a Party to the several biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) including: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention on Desertification and Drought (UNCCD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Barbados has also signed on to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) otherwise known as Agenda 2030. The 17 Global Goals are a roadmap to address the most pressing challenges facing persons all over the world, to create a sustainable future for all
- The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Programme of the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification aims to undertake effective management of the biodiversity resources and land resources, particularly degraded areas in Barbados, to contribute to their conservation, and increased awareness of the importance of the local biodiversity and land resources and their contribution to local development.
The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is celebrated annually on May 22nd and is organised by the CBD to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
This year the theme is ‘We’re part of the solution #ForNature’ which shows that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better.
Desertification and Drought Day
Land Degradation Day is held annually on June 17th by the UNCCD to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.
The theme of the 2021 Desertification and Drought Day is Restoration. Land. Recovery. We build back better with healthy land. It will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land.