To understand biodiversity, think of your primary school lessons on the food chain, says environmental economist Vanya Veras.
“Each step of the chain from plants, to insects, to herbivores and insectivores and carnivores are dependent on each other. This interdependency is biodiversity. The more different types of indigenous and endemic plants, insects and animals there are, the stronger the ecosystem and every living thing within it,” she explains, “This goes for the soil too. The stronger the biodiversity of the soil, the healthier the plants and food it can grow and the healthier we are for eating it.”
“As a human species, we are still completely dependent on the health of the planet and the health of our ecosystems for our survival; for our food, water, medicine, clothing. Everything comes from nature,” says Pia Vassallo, a communications professional who has always been interested in the natural environment and environmental issues.
Pia says that we can all play a part because every little step in the right direction helps: “We need to create ecosystems that mimic nature, that can adapt to our Mediterranean climate and therefore be sustainable and drought resistant.”
By planting indigenous Mediterranean and Maltese endemic plants, we are helping native species of insects and other animals by providing them with food, she says.
“Because these native plants thrive on little water and no chemical fertilisers, they promote soil biodiversity and all the insect life within it. The worms and grubs naturally till the soil and fertilise the plants and are food for birds and other small reptiles and mammals. We must stop cutting down wildflowers – we need them for our biodiversity – and start seeing the beauty of our local wildlife,” Pia explains.
What else can we do?
It’s important that we start looking at nature-based solutions, says Pia.
“This is the period of human existence with the greatest and fastest biodiversity loss. We need to use green infrastructure, make use of our rooftops to build local, biodiverse ecosystems and reduce our dependence on our cars. Walk to the local grocery store, walk to work, cycle, use public transport as air pollution damages biodiversity. Work from home at least one day a week. Nature is incredibly resilient, as we have seen during the lockdown. Give her a little help and she will recover and protect you in return.”
The other things we can do to protect local biodiversity are buy local and where possible pesticide free or organic.
“If your local grocer doesn’t have pesticide free produce, ask for it. Supply follows demand,” concludes Vanya.
Bee video: Friends of the Earth
Editing: Coryse Borg