Every 5 June since 1974, the world has celebrated World Environment Day, and this year the theme is Biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential.
This most renowned day for environmental action brings together engaging governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.
This year the need for action has never been more urgent, with recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrating the interdependence of humans and their environment.
What is biodiversity and how it affects us
Biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life on land and below water, which involves 8 million plant and animal species, the ecosystems that house them, and the genetic diversity among them. Changing, or removing one element of this chain can have devasting consequences.
Human actions, including deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change, have already pushed nature beyond its limit. Humans are living beyond the limits to the extent that it would take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands that humans make of nature each year.
Continuing on this path, biodiversity loss will have severe implications for humanity, including the collapse of food and health systems.
The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.
Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:
To care for ourselves we must care for nature.
It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices.
It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.
This World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature.
The time for change is now
In the last 150 years, the live coral reef cover around the world has been reduced by half and within the next 10 years, one out of every four known species may have been wiped off the planet, gone forever.
The time for change is now. One organisation working to protect the planet’s most vulnerable areas is Soldiers For Wildlife. Soldiers For Wildlife is an initiative focused on both conservation and community work through creating elite anti-poaching units, education for locals and an international community, preserving wild land, and community upliftment.
Soldiers For Wildlife Founder, John Garcia, recognises that wildlife regions in Africa, which contain some of the most biodiverse arenas on earth, are shrinking at an incredible rate and destroyed by those who only seek financial gain from their destruction.
“This is the cause of both an extreme black-market trade in wildlife and the rapid growth of the human population on this continent,” John Garcia explained.
“It is therefore up to an international body to fight this battle on all fronts: preserving as much land as we can that has yet to be destroyed, replenish areas that have been decimated by poaching, education and combating both the unemployment issue and lack of infrastructure in local communities in or surrounding these regions.”
“It is foolish to say or act on only one of these issues and think you are going to solve this problem. It is imperative organizations put the same effort into the communities as they are putting into saving the wild,” John added.
Soldiers For Wildlife is currently raising $1.2 million through crowdfunding, in order to purchase more private land to act as safe havens for endangered species and to continue equipping elite anti-poaching units to combat the crisis on the front-lines in Zambia and South Africa.
The next focus is the Zambian project, a conservancy approximately 70,000 ha in size in the Central province of Zambia, located east of the Kafue National Park and borders the Kafue River which runs on the southern boundary.
This area is home to threatened, endangered and critically endangered species, including elephant, wild dog, cheetah, yellow backed duiker and more. According to wildlife authorities, the Kafue region is the most poached region in the country with an approximate 10,000 poachers operating at any given time in and around the park.
Soldiers For Wildlife’s work here will involve working closely with the community, in a joint effort in not only protecting wildlife, but building infrastructure in the community and creating jobs for the indigenous people.
Looking to the future
The good news is, global conservation organisations like Soldiers For Wildlife, UN agencies, governments, advocates and even celebrities are taking up the fight to protect the environment and its wildlife, creating an ever growing voice.
The more we educate ourselves on global matters, the more we understand the need for change. That change can start with every individual, right here, right now.
Do it for yourself, do it for the future generations, do it #FORNATURE.