What is biodiversity ?
Why should we protect biodiversity ?
How can we protect biodiversity ?
Biodiversity refers to the diversity of living species and to their genetic characteristics. Biodiversity is maximal in the tropical forest (regarding terrestrial ecosystem) and in the coral reefs (regarding marine ecosystem). Up to now 14 million animal and vegetal species have been listed (of which 750,000 insects, 230,000 flower plants and 4,000 mammals). However the precise number of species is quite hard to estimate and it varies from 10 to 30 millions according to the evaluations.
No one can ignore the fact that all living species have the same origins. Every species is the result of a long and constant evolution in an attempt to adapt as much as possible to its environment. Showing disrespect to living creatures is showing disrespect to human beings. We have so many things to learn from biodiversity as far as scientific knowledge and medicine are concerned! Vegetal and animal species have developed survival strategies. We just cannot destroy million years of evolution for the sake of economy. Nature provides us with all we need to live a long and healthy life; as a consequence, the least we can do is to respect and preserve the biodiversity.
It’s a fact that biodiversity is being harmed by man. Big monocultivated fields take the place of natural ecosystems such as pampas in Argentina, meadows in the US or the rain forest in Brazil and Indonesia, destroying million years of evolution and an irreplaceable wealth. Moreover, the greenhouse effect resulting from carbon dioxide emissions deeply modifies the climate. Global warming is occurring so fast that species don’t have enough time to adapt to their new environment. In front of this alarming situation, it is our duty to (re)act! Every one of us is concerned by environmental protection and no doubt we can contribute at our own level. Quotas of carbon dioxide emissions and projects to use renewable energies (wind, sun, water) on a larger scale are good example of (re)actions. Farmers are important actors regarding environmental protection. Some cultivation practices such as organic agriculture are beneficial to biodiversity. In fact, farmers’ choices and decisions will determine the future of the earth
THE MAYA ROAD or How can the famous quetzal be saved ?
The quetzal is one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Its shiny colours made it become very important for the Maya Civilisation which gave its name to the Guatemalan currency. However, nowadays, the quetzal has become an endangered species. Indeed, this bird suffers a lot from hunting, but also from the destruction of its natural habitat, the Central American rainforest.
As a matter of fact, this problem doesn’t only affects the quetzal : the growing demographic pressure in the region has led to an unconsiderate cleaning to get more and more space to cultivate. However, the lands obtained by this practical remain fertile only for two or three cultural cycles of corn or beans, that is to say three years maximum after which the land is worked out. As a consequence, people cut more and more trees every three years to get new and fertile lands and, inch by inch, destroy the antique rainforest which saw born the Maya Civilisation.
Fortunately, in front of this alarming situation, the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador, the five countries which share the inheritance of the ancient Maya Civilisation, came to an agreement on an international project : the Maya Road.
The Maya Road is part of these ecotourism projects which aim at making money in order to protect the visited area. With this project, the governments hope to promote tourism in the region by orienting it towards activities which don’t damage the environment. Last but not least, a large part of the profits coming from this ecotourism would be used to improve the living conditions of the populations living in the protected area and in the surroundings.
The major element of the Maya Road would be a 2500-kilometre road, opened all year long and linking all the important Maya historic sites. In some cases, trains, boats or even cable cars could replace the road.
Once the project achieved, the eco-tourists would be able to move freely on the road, on the same pattern as you can use the inter-rail tickets in the European trains.
Finally, a single visa could be emitted for visiting the five countries which participate in the project.
Article coming from the Spanish newspaper El Pais