It is difficult in today’s world not to have a sense of anxiety about the state of our planet. We hear daily news stories about our damaged and polluted environment, the extinction of wildlife and loss of natural habitats. We desperately want a more hopeful future for our children and know that we cannot continue as we are - but what can we do when faced with a challenge this big?
In this article we look at what biodiversity is and what we can do together to support it. Our aim is to raise children who are aware of, connected to and responsible for the environment in which we live. We believe that we can educate even the youngest generation to understand the importance of biodiversity - That they can have a positive impact on the world around them and that, together, we can make a difference.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the diverse and complex ecosystem that supports and gives life to all of the organisms on our planet; insects, plants, birds, animals and us. We cannot survive without a healthy ecosystem, our future depends on it - for our health, the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Plus the natural beauty around us all depend on a balanced ecosystem.
Why is it at risk and what can we do?
While most of us aren’t actively trying to harm biodiversity, modern daily life is rife with unintended consequences that impact the plants and animals sharing the planet with us. As we put increasing pressure on the world, we are upsetting the balance of ecosystems and facing rapid biodiversity loss. Yet we can make changes to the way we live our lives and become more responsible consumers. Small actions can add up to make a big difference. Here are some of the steps we can take in our everyday lives...
Being aware of what we eat…
Our consumption choices are driving biodiversity loss. A report from the The World Wildlife Fund showed that 60% of global diversity loss is due to meat consumption. The land required for the projected global demand for meat and dairy will need to double by 2050, which will further decimate existing wildlife habitats. We can become more mindful about what we consume. If we eat meat less frequently we can afford to buy higher quality, more sustainable meat products.
A further loss of biodiversity is due to the fact that the majority of what we eat is limited to a small range of foods, namely wheat and rice. Yet we as the consumer have much influence over what drives production. By eating a varied range of pulses, grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts we can drive the changes needed to increase biodiversity.
Being aware of what we waste…
The average household wastes 30% of the produce it buys. Dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables are the main culprits in food wastage. Plus being buried in landfill causes harmful emissions as opposed to rotting naturally and the potential to re-fertilise the soil. One solution is to start a compost patch or look into buying a wormery. Children are fascinated by the process of watching the worms digest the spoiled food and turning it into compost. Plus the compost and 'worm pee tea' is free, pesticide-free fertiliser for the garden! See www.wigglywrigglers.co.uk
As we know single-use plastics have huge environmental impact but we can always find ways to do more. Here are some ideas:
Use reusable coffee cups and try shampoo soap bars, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic-free cotton buds.
Shop for recycled party bags - These include fair trade wooden toys and wildflower seeds www.plasticfreepartybags.com
Buy or make beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm or freezer bags. They can be used time and time again and are made only from 100% cotton and beeswax www.beeswaxwraps.co.uk
Find a local milk delivery service to avoid plastic cartons.
Buy eco-friendly and biodegradable glitter
Nurturing our bugs, bees and butterflies…
Loss of natural habitats and climate change is leading to a decline in our pollinators - which are vital for food production and a healthy ecosystem. We can turn our garden, balcony or window sill into a mini-wildlife sanctuary. There are some easy-to-grow flowers and plants that bees and insects love, such as lavender, honeysuckle and cosmos. An old wood stack can support insects and fungi. Leaving a small wild area will attract countless bugs, insects and even hedgehogs.
Connecting to nature…
Many children, especially as they grow older spend less and less time outdoors in wild, natural spaces. Allowing time just to be in nature develops a founding love and connection to it. Research shows that children's direct experience of nature links to a corresponding awareness and respect for biodiversity and the environment. Here are some of our favourite wild places to visit and connect with nature:
Brownsea Island - Red squirrels, deer and great nature trails for children.
RSPB Arne, nr Wareham - Wooded paths, quiet sandy beaches and a wonderful natural play park.
Upton Country Park, nr Poole - 120 acres of gardens, parkland and a woodland play trail
Boldrewood & Rhinefield Drive, nr Lyndhurst - Ancient woodland, tree-climbing and wild picnic spots.
Berry Meadow, nr Winchester - Beautiful spot on the River Itchen for paddling and river dipping.
There are some fantastic activities to get children outdoors and absorbed in nature. Here are some coming up over the summer: