International Day for Biological Diversity

May 22nd of each year is an International Day for Biological Diversity! On this day, we are encouraged to participate in activities to celebrate and reflect on the importance of biological diversity. Although we cannot come together in person this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many ways we celebrate the day and do our part to promote biological diversity on earth.

First let’s look at what biological diversity – or biodiversity – means anyways! The three main parts of biodiversity are:

  • Maintaining a variety of different types of species – everything from animals, plants, fungi, and even microscopic organisms such as protists and bacteria.
  • Maintaining differences between individuals of the same species. Having different sizes, shapes, and colour varieties of black bears, for example.
  • Maintaining different ecosystems - such as coastal temperate rainforests, mountain alpine, bogs, deserts, kelp forests, eelgrass beds – and the species that live and interact in each of these ecosystems.

Maintaining biological diversity also play a key role for human survival too! We depend on healthy ecosystems for many reasons such as:

  • A source of essential resources such as food, medicine, and materials for building and making clothes.
  • Vital services such as generating clean air and water, pollinating plants, flood protection, and pest management, to name a few.
  • Maintaining cultural diversity. Throughout the world, cultures have developed over time shaped by the world around them resulting a wide diversity of cultures. Maintaining healthy ecosystems is important and intimately connected to maintaining cultural diversity.
  • A source of income through ecotourism. World travel is currently at a standstill due to COVID-19 pandemic. However travelling throughout the world to experience naturally beautiful places was, and one day will again be a major industry on a global scale. In Canada, tourism is one of our Nation’s largest economic sectors, where visitors arrive to experience nature, wildlife, historical sites, and Indigneous culture. Before February of this year, aligned with global trends, both the number of visitors travelling to Canada and tourism spending was increasing. When the time comes and countries begin to open their doors to world travellers, many people will benefit from ecotourism in their communities.

Now let’s celebrate and do our part to promote biodiversity! Here are a few ideas of fun things to do: