Environment Day 2020 Inspires All To Take Time Out For Nature

Reconnecting With Nature To Conserve Biodiversity In Smart Cities

Nature Has Created Every Being For A Reason. And This Is That Crucial Time When Modern Man Must Understand His Reason For Existence. 

There are billions or maybe trillions of species on Earth. Some are known to man while many remain hidden from the human eye. But all of them make up the biodiversity of our planet Earth – acting as indispensable fuel. Each living thing is interdependent and vital for Earth’s green future. We, humans, are part of this chain and must understand our role and contribution as the most intelligent beings. 

Environment Day 2020 held in Colombia explains all of this more clearly. This year the Environment Day theme was ‘Time For Nature.’ The focus was on biodiversity in the wake of rapid loss of species and degradation of the natural world. This is the first time since 1974 when the event was celebrated virtually. 

The lesson that came from Environment Day 2020 is as follows. 

The Lesson Of Conserving Biodiversity 

This year’s Environment Day tells us to stay at home and keep a safe distance.  It is not the time to take to the outside natural world – beaches, hillsides, forests and streets. We also need to protect the sick, the vulnerable and the poor – most affected by the disease. 

The world celebrated the day online. So, this sends a message that “something is terribly wrong with human stewardship of the Earth.” The novel coronavirus is not bad luck or a one-off event that nobody could see coming. It was predictable with what modern man has done to nature. If this is left unchecked it may bring more suffering. 

COVID-19 that was transmitted from animals to humans is a direct warning that nature cannot take any more burden. The virus is the result of humanity’s vast exploitation of species and the destruction of the wildlife’s natural habitat.

On the other hand, our response to the pandemic lockdown showed that nature can still flourish if we give it a chance. The improvement in air quality and the free-roaming of animals on urban streets proved that we need to stay in harmony.

Nurturing Wildlife Gardening

Wildlife Gardening To Nurture Native Plants And Insects

Today, urbanites seldom encounter the chirping of birds and buzzing of bees. Hence, it is vital that residents in the urban space foster special plants and animals to our neighborhoods. You can take the initiative at home, school or work.

This comes from Dr. Laura Mumaw, Vice-Chancellor postdoctoral fellow working in the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University. People can use their backyard, balcony, or outdoors to do gardening for wildlife. This ensures that native plants, insects, birds, and mammals get food and shelter – giving rise to a nurturing landscape.

Dr Mumaw also suggests adding water features, lizard shelters, and bee hotels, and more. Residents can leverage the benefits of wildlife gardening programs that collaborate with community members and local government.

These can help build stewardship ethic and skills, personal wellbeing, and community connections. More importantly, it gives hope for a greener future.

Dr Mumaw is working with one such program called the ‘Garden for Wildlife Victoria’ network. The initiative is working to encourage the expansion, impact and innovation of wildlife gardening.

Going ahead, we have explored two initiatives that set examples for smart cities and the corporate world.

No Mow May

The “No Mow May” Initiative To Stop Lawn Mowing And Welcome Pollinating Insects

A UN biodiversity study reveals that up to 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction in some parts of the globe. This is a serious concern as we know the vital role insects play in the natural ecosystem. 

The city of Toronto is one such place where the bee population has been waning since decades. As a result, an initiative called “No Mow May” is spurring change in the city. It calls homeowners to stop lawn mowing for a month and welcome the local bees and other pollinating insects. 

As per the organizers of the event, this will help bring much-needed biodiversity and more native flowering plants. Both are wanting but are vital for bee populations to thrive.  

Trevor Dines, a botanical specialist at the conservation charity Plantlife in the UK is spearheading the initiative. He says that mowing your lawns only once per month can result in a ten-fold increase in the number of bees pollinating the area. 

The same has been confirmed by a 2019 paper published by scientists at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Their study shows that mowing the lawns more often has a negative impact on the ecology in the urban area. 

What if hundreds of backyards do their bit to improve the habitat of native pollinators and migratory birds? It could truly have a huge impact on the biodiversity in the urban ecosystem. This is as per Dan Kraus, a senior conservation biologist at the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Reduction in mowing, fertilization, and irrigation could help native species including wild strawberries, trout lilies in the lawns of Toronto.

There is hope that this initiative will help the bee population in Toronto come back from the declining numbers. For this, homeowners need to play a major role in revitalising these species.

In fact, the city has a program called ‘PollinateTO program for residents without backyards to help local bees. This program grants $5000 to help citizens create pollinator-friendly gardens in their neighbourhoods. 

Audi’s Biodiversity Project

The car manufacturing giant, Audi has been seriously involved in improving the urban ecosystem. The Audi Environmental Foundation is incorporating environmental management across the company for the benefit of biodiversity.  

Audi production facility in Münchsmünster, Germany is a “lighthouse project for the biodiversity action area.” The company has transformed 17 hectares of its production site into natural habitats for plants and animals. As a pleasant surprise, over 110 plant species have ripened.  And 90 wild bee species have already established their colonies.  

This project received Bavaria’s “Blühender Betrieb” award in 2019. This award is a part of the “Blühpakt Bayern” initiative by the Bavarian State Ministry for Environment and Consumer Protection. It encourages companies to make their space flower and insect-friendly. 

This award calls for strict criteria where a minimum of 20% open space must be flowering plants. For instance, chemical pesticides and substrates containing peat should not be used.

Audi has set several such benchmarks at its other locations worldwide. It has introduced green roofs at the Ingolstadt site and flowering meadows at the Neckarsulm plant in Germany. Then facade greening and bee colonies are being encouraged at the Brussels site in Belgium. In San Jose Chiapa in Mexico, Audi has developed a nourishing landscape comprising a reforestation of 100,000 trees.

The biodiversity project in Münchsmünster is a primary project for the company. It is a part of the Biodiversity in Good Company Initiative that started in 2015. Audi has been part of this since the beginning. 

This initiative encourages companies from different industries to work together to protect and improve the biodiversity of our planet. What Audi has been doing sets an example of successful corporate management. 

People around the world, no matter where they live and work can contribute in various ways to build a sustainable green future. As more and more of us get closer to nature, we will understand our role in ‘her’ existence.