Celebrate and Support Biodiversity

The United Nations has proclaimed 22 May 2009 International Day for Biological Diversity (AKA Biodiversity) to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity and increase awareness and understanding of biodiversity issues. The term biodiversity was coined by E.O. Wilson and refers to “the variety of living things, including diversity within species (genetic diversity), diversity between species and diversity of ecosystems.”

This year’s theme is Invasive Alien Species, one of the most serious threats to biodiversity and one that is exacerbated by climate change. That link takes you to a slide show of some very familiar plants and animals, for example, Eastern grey squirrel, European honey bee, domestic cat and common pigeon. Depending on where you are in the world, these are probably not native species, but through competition, predation, pathogens and general ecosystem disruption, their very success threatens native flora and fauna.

Here in British Columbia, Biodiversity BC–a partnership of government including First Nations as well as not-for-profit agencies and academics–has produced a number of resources including Taking Nature’s Pulse: The Status of Biodiversity in British Columbia as well as the BC Biodiversity Atlas. These resources document how BC’s unique species and ecosystems are under serious threat, especially from habitat loss and disruption. For example, southeastern BC is home to almost all of the world’s remaining mountain caribou. Below is a northern alligator lizard seen at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary in Victoria.

In Metro Vancouver, formerly Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), efforts are also underway to monitor and preserve biodiversity. In July 2006, Val gave a presentation on improving biodiversity in the region. Metro Vancouver is home to 2073 species of vascular plants, 1086 species of vertebrates, 454 bird species, 450 fish species and 143 species of mammals.

Carbon and Biodiversity: A demonstration atlas (very large document) maps areas worldwide that have both high carbon and biodiversity, opening the door to conserving biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from land use change at the same time.

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