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Batesford, Fyansford, Stonehaven Landcare Group


What does Biodiversity mean and why should we be interested?
Biodiversity is shortened from ‘biological diversity’.

 
It describes the great variety of all life forms on Earth, from the tiniest bugs living in the soil, to the butterflies in your garden, the plants they feed from, and the biggest whales in the sea.    

Biodiversity includes the diversity of: 
•  Individuals within a species (genetic diversity),
•  Species within an ecosystem or habitat (species diversity) and
•  Ecosystems or habitats (habitat diversity).

The biological diversity we see today is the result of millions of years of evolution. Biological diversity is constantly changing and evolving as some species adapt to new surroundings, become extinct, and others, over time, evolve into new species. We as human beings are an integral part of biodiversity and we can influence it in a positive or negative way.

Balancing  and maintaining a rich and complex biodiversity ensures that we humans continue to exist. It is our life support system.  Ecosystems regulate climatic processes, breakdown wastes and recycle nutrients, filter and purify water, buffer against flooding, maintain soil fertility, purify air, and provide natural resources such as wood, textiles, and of course food.   All agriculture depends fundamentally on Biodiversity, as do marine and freshwater food resources. 

If we humans allow the increasing rate of biodiversity loss to continue we will lose the essential services that biodiversity provides, therefore preventing us from handing down an invaluable gift to future generations. 

Biodiversity & Health 
The diversity of life forms that exist is nature’s way of keeping important checks and balances in place, keeping populations of disease-causing pests and viruses in check. Clean air and water is essential to human health.  Plant extracts and derivatives form the basis of most traditional and many modern medicines. To date plant-based medicines provide more than 3 billion people with their primary health care. With the loss of global biodiversity, we could be losing vitally important undiscovered plant species that can be used to fight illnesses, such as cancer.

Biodiversity & Agriculture
Biodiversity provides us with a varied food supply, which is needed for balanced human nutrition. Conservation of genetic biodiversity is essential to ensure that domestic plants and animals can be adapted to thrive in local conditions. 

Biodiversity & Business
Businesses depend on the earth's biological resources such as clean water and raw materials, as essential components and services for the operation of their day-to-day activities. It is therefore important that there is a sustainable supply of these resources to ensure economic growth.

What can we do to maintain Biodiversity?
•  Improving site nature conservation
There are many different things you can do to encourage a wider number of species to your site and in doing so increase the attractiveness and biodiversity value of your site.

•  Introduce native species
Planting of a mix of native plants and trees will make your site more natural looking, encourage more local wildlife such as birds, insects and small mammals.

•  Help your local wildlife
This can be achieved by erecting bird boxes and feeders, bat boxes and bug boxes offering shelter to a wealth of animals.

• Habitat Management
Wetlands for example provide a unique habitat for a wide range of birds, animals and insects. If your site contains any wetland areas it would be well worth the effort to try and develop their ecological potential to enhance biodiversity. 

If you have any woodland areas there are things you can do to enhance biodiversity. By leaving piles of dead wood lying out over the winter you can provide natural shelter to many insects which in turn will serve as a food source to birds, as do many plants as well. 

For managing grassland consider using no fertiliser or leave meadow areas to allow more species to grow.  Learn a little about invasive weeds such as serrated tussock and remove them from your property before they escape onto farm land or woodland. Plant a majority of natives which are suited to your area where possible.  Avoid the planting of garden species that could be invasive e.g. agapanthus, (unless you ensure their seed heads are removed after flowering), cotoneaster, periwinkle creeper, gerbera.

If you would like to join a Landcare group as a regular or occasional volunteer, or if you wish to receive advice on land and habitat management, please contact your local Landcare Group or the Geelong Landcare Network. (geelonglandcarenetwork@gmail.com)

And check out www.dogrockssanctuary.org