Monday, May 22 is International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB). The theme for this year is Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism in keeping with the United Nation’s designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Well-managed tourism can reduce threats to biodiversity.
What is biodiversity? Simply put, it refers to the variety of living things on Earth. Why is biodiversity important? Greater species diversity means healthier ecosystems, which means a greater ability to survive. All of human life depends on biodiversity.
In King County, the diversity of species is reflected in the following numbers:
- 220 species of breeding and non-breeding birds
- 70-80 mammal species
- 70 species of freshwater fish
- 1,249 species of identified plants
These numbers were likely different 150 years ago, when almost all of the developed areas in King County were covered with either forest or wetland, all of it habitat for wildlife. Today, urban areas continue to grow get, requiring people, animals, and plants to keep finding ways to live together.
You can help by being mindful of the resources you use on a daily basis and conserve as much as possible. And if you’re traveling this summer, be an eco-conscious tourist. Here are some specific things you can do to promote biodiversity:
- Middle and high school teachers can arrange for a classroom workshop on biodiversity for their students. The interactive workshop answers the questions: What is biodiversity and why is it important for survival on Earth? How do our shopping and waste disposal choices affect biodiversity? Students actively engage in a discussion of real-world issues such as habitat protection, population growth, and climate change.
- King County hosts many work parties and events where you can help maintain our local biodiversity. As the weather turns warmer, find ways to get outside and volunteer.
- Participate in a local citizen science project, such as bird count projects with an Audubon chapter near you.
- Dispose of hazardous waste properly to keep our local environment clean.
- Rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle your stuff. These actions decrease pollution by decreasing energy, electricity, and water consumption. They also decrease the amount of sent to the landfill.
Most of all, tell your friends and family about biodiversity and what we can do to support it!