A Christmas gift for us

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WHAT would be the best Christmas gift for mankind? We want to be a part of this gift for our own survival and for the survival of others. This is more than a pair of shoes or a Christmas party for the poorest of the poor. This is life itself. This is biodiversity. Can we be partners for biodiversity conservation?

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth and our collective life support system. It comprises all living things (godly and the ungodly), from the microscopic viruses, big and small creatures, plants, animals and people. It includes expansive landscapes embracing a variety of ecosystems such as forests, rivers, lakes, farmlands, urban areas, and the coastal and marine areas, that host these living things. This is the Christmas gift package that we want to protect because this is for us.

Why care about biodiversity? Everything is inter-connected. This delicately balanced inter-relationship, referred to as the web of life, provides food, fresh water, wood, fiber, genetic resources, medicines, and ornamental and cultural products, and fuel such as firewood, security from natural and human-made disaster, and other life supporting and enhancing system and processes. The explanation is long and complicated because our existence and its needs are based on complicity.

We are a part of biodiversity. Every member of the community plays an essential role in keeping the web of life. People, as part of the ecosystem, are integral component of biodiversity. Even within the urban life, where people may appear as detached from the “natural” environment, human communities remain intimately connected with ecosystems and processes through their diets, recreational activities, use of materials, water and a lot other services and benefits obtained from biodiversity resources and ecosystems.

If biodiversity is a gift to us, what then does it gives us? Biodiversity produces clean air, fresh water, food, medicines and shelter. It also provides us with life-sustaining services like flood-control, plant pollination, pest control, soil aeration, and water filtration and storage. It also helps in our quality of life by offering us with recreational, psychological, emotional and spiritual enjoyment.

For parents like me, we are leaving behind a legacy for our children and their children. What we do now will be inherited by them. That is the reason why we should be aware of the consequences of our present action. Reduced biodiversity leads to reduced productivity, leads to reduced nutrient retention in ecosystems, leads to reduced ecosystem stability, and leads to reduced resistance to diseases.

What are the threats to biodiversity? Some of the main causes are the current rate of species extinction; habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, climate change, pollution and over-utilization of natural resources. Our forest is becoming smaller and has been fragmentized because of agricultural expansion, forest-related activities that probably some of our congressmen and senators know, mining and land conversion (with authority from you know who).

To conserve biodiversity, there should be a partnerships project. I would just like to cite what we are doing in Northern Negros Natural Park that belongs to the political jurisdiction of Talisay, Silay, Victorias, Cadiz, Sagay and San Carlos. Sixty-seven endemic species of amphibians and reptiles are threatened species that are restricted to the Negros-Panay biogeographic region.

The species are Walden’s hornbill, White-winged cuckoo Shrike, Visayan Flowerpecker, Flame-templed Babbles, the Negros Bleeding Heart, Visayan Warty Pig, Philippine Spotted Deer, among others. Those who are involved in biodiversity conservation are also involved in the production of vegetables and root crops, bamboo and rattan, and native chicken. This will pave the way to conserving biodiversity to promote inclusive economic growth. I am thanking my friends from Biodiversity Partnerships for providing me the materials for this column.

Biodiversity is the best Christmas gift we could offer to ourselves and to the generations to come. When we give out biodiversity as a gift it doesn’t mean emptying one’s resources but making room for a fresh refill of God’s additional gifts for the giver. Choose to see the goodness in everything around us and we will appreciate life more.*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 17, 2013.


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