Did you know that recent studies show that urban ecosystems present a higher richness of species than intensively managed agricultural ecosystems? This could suggest that the conditions in the cities are giving these species a place to live without the threats of pesticides, disturbance from machinery or clear cuts after harvesting… isn’t that great? our cities are giving biodiversity a home!
With a growing population, the food demand will also increase. And maybe using urban spaces for food production could be an alternative to avoid agricultural intensification and enhance urban biodiversity. Boom! what a combination! 😉
Cuba is an example worth mentioning…Evidence shows that the country has 8000 agro-ecological gardens managed without any chemical pesticide or fertiliser. Such gardens promote the diversity of crops and species, recycle and uses local inputs, and produce considerable amounts of food. In the case of La Habana city, these agro-ecological systems provided with 8500 tons of food, including 7, 5 millions of eggs, and 3650 tons of meat in 1996. Not bad right?
In a pot, in a garden or in an allotment close to your place…lets’s do it!
Why bother with urban biodiversity? … I can mention at least four reasons for knowing, caring and doing something to protect all the species in our cities….
1.- cities offer an enormous niche and an opportunity for biodiversity conservation
2.- urban settlements are inevitably growing in size and density and are one of the major threats to nature conservation.
3.- cities tend to be located in important biodiversity hotspots
4.- urban ecosystems provide a platform for citizens to understand the natural processes that govern global sustainability and provide them with several different social and psychological benefits.
Wanna do something about it? Get involved in urban planning and development in your home city! There is a lot of room for biologists, ecologist and conservationists in general. For example, green infrastructures such as green roofs and walls for food production, carbon sequestration, regulation of temperature could be the perfect scenario for the restoration of ecosystems, and the reintroduction of some native plants, birds, small mammals, insects that otherwise would not have a chance to co-exist with cities. It is true that many native species won’t resist to urban conditions but such technologies have the potential to restore the ecosystem’s functioning and to reconnect cities with the natural cycles.
How many species live next you? do you know them? Go out and explore!!!!! See below a beauty you can find in the North of Quito-Ecuador 😉
There are great examples of successful conservation and sustainability efforts around the world that give us hope (Balmford, 2012; Bernard, 2010) and demonstrate that things can get better and will get better. However, it is time to be honest in tackling the root causes of the problem from a conservation perspective.
Waste and our current consumption and production patterns are the major drivers for biodiversity loss, pollution, poverty, climate change (Orr, 1994).
What if we think out-of the box for substituting something with nothing (Pauli, 2010)? and we create solutions that move away from pollution and waste and that use the resources that we already have?
The Blue Economy (Pauli, 2010) is a great example showing that it IS possible to do so. In a nutshell, Gunther Pauli proposes the use of the waste produced by the coffee industry to grow mushrooms to feed vulnerable communities. Producers could grow coffee in a way that is compatible with biodiversity and responsible with the producer’s wellbeing. Responsible coffee drinkers could pay a fair price to producers, and in addition, new entrepreneurs could use the coffee waste to grow mushrooms to feed people (Pauli, 2010). The result would be that we wouldn’t need more land to grow more coffee or more resources for the creation of more goods, more jobs and more money. Check out more about this idea here.
With the same reasoning , there are many other examples of innovation in conservation. It is essential that we keep innovating our actions to tackle waste, production and consumption in the Anthropocene era (Steffen et al., 2011). Keep checking the blog!!! new ideas coming soon… 🙂
” … I now understand that conservation is much more than biology, even though biology is a key piece of the puzzle for conservation, and I believe I have the tools to inspire people to be passionate about nature. I believe I can make the difference in conservation.”
Read here what my great friend and classmate Isabel Vique has to say about being a conservation scientist! 🙂
“ Drawing strength and inspiration from Nature ” -Gunther Pauli-
How important is to understand that conservation needs to be tackled from all the possible angles you can think of. Conservation is by nature interdisciplinary but we still tend to believe that it can be achieved by hard sciences alone. The truth is that the issue is so complex, that it needs the understanding and the contribution from all us, no matter the position you are in or the subject you studied at college. Everybody can make a difference from wherever they are. I find that one of most engaging, colourful and fun approaches to conservation is through visual arts. From scientific illustration to photography, video, documentaries, street art to name a few. The purpose is to make conservation more inclusive. To make the matter visible to non-experts, catch their attention, INSPIRE them and invite them to contribute. When these visual arts are combined with the intuitive wisdom from my female entrepreneur fellows it becomes even more motivating to me 🙂 (sorry if I am biased)
Diana Troya-Visual Communicator
I am proud and happy to introduce you all to Diana Troya and Noemi Cevallos, ecuadorian biologists, artists, innate communicators and friends. They are both doing an amazing job by organising workshops to spread the word about conservation through visual arts in Ecuador.
If you want to know about their work, like their Facebook page and check out the videos about their last two workshops held in Quito.
Noemi Cevallos-Scientific Illustrator
Too many times I have heard that development aid implements millionaire programmes to tackle one issue and accidentally causes another problem. This time, I want to share with you the case of mosquito nets, lake Malawi and the endemic endangered Chambo fish. Imagine for a second this amazing lake full of fishes…. thousands of people depending on Chambo as a source of protein and as a source of income. Imagine now, a huge amount of mosquito nets impregnated with toxic pesticides (to kill the mosquito) been distributed in the country to prevent Malaria and other mosquito-transmitted diseases. Not a direct relation between these two facts right? well, these facts are very closely related…. People are sleeping without mosquito nets and are using the nets to capture baby Chambo fishes in the breeding areas. Such practice has almost driven the specie to extinction. Ooooops!!!?
I am not saying that a strategy for preventing Malaria is a bad thing, because it is not! .. but c’mon people! let’s pay attention to the implementation process of such strategies. The solution is not to distribute mosquito nets without proper education and communication about how to use the nets appropriately. Let’s always be aware and prepared to mitigate the unintended consequences of our actions in any field. Luckily some actions have been taken to conserve the breeding grounds of the fish and people are now actively involved in the process. Local people are aware of the importance of protecting the baby Chambo fishes to ensure their food security and their jobs.
view from the Nagarkot Tower
From Kathmandu with love….
” Namaste: an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya. It means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” beautiful!
Today, I want to share with you some amazing lessons from Nepal’s approach to conservation, climate change and people’s livelihoods.
We have heard a lot of stories about the conflicts between people and wildlife in buffer zones of protected areas. And how challenging it is to find good measures to deal with this. In Nepal, small holders in rural communities see their staple crops affected by deers, wild rhinos, elephants, monkeys and climate change. For these communities, wildlife is a constant threat to their lives, food security and economy. An innovative solution to increase communities’ resilience to climate change and to mitigate human-wildlife conflict is the cultivation of crops that are not appealing to wildlife. Yes! Communities here plant mint, lemon grass, chamomile and other aromatic plants to extract essential oils and export them abroad. Wild animals seem to not like these plants very much and they stay away from this kind of crops. Isn’t it great? People practice this in between the cultivation of their traditional crops such as rice, wheat and maize, so their food is secured as well. The result at the end, is an opportunity for small holders to increase their resilience to climate change by having an alternative source of income, a reduction of the conflicts between wildlife and people, and an interesting approach to conservation in buffer zones. Maybe, this could be an innovative solution for a better management of buffer belts around protected areas. This is my lesson learnt from Nepal… 🙂
Otonga Cloud Forest
I’ve been called ‘idealist” several times in my life, especially when the discussions are around business, consumption patterns and biodiversity conservation. BUT I do believe that there are different ways of doing business, different ways of consuming…and more important I do believe that business can enhance the protection of the natural environment and that consumers have the right and the power of choosing sustainable and ethical products. Here are some of my ideas of innovative business models that might work…
Wild orange marmalade from Otonga- My business innovation idea for the conservation of the Otonga Cloud Forest- part 1
In a nutshell, the idea is to sell the best wild orange marmalade to the best restaurant(s) in Quito. The chef will prepare the best dessert based on wild orange marmalade and row sugar from the Otonga Cloud forest. The best-informed clients will attend the restaurant and pay a fair price for eating a delicious dessert that has a social and environmental purpose. The owner of the restaurant, will invest part of its revenues in the sustainability of its source of production (wild oranges + row sugar + local entrepreneurs of the area). Sounds good right?
– The environment is seen as an opportunity for investment rather than as an externality.
– Profit for the marmalade producers and the restaurant.
– Low-income communities in Ecuador can improve their livelihoods by running social enterprises compatible with biodiversity conservation.
– Protection of the cloud forest in Ecuador
– Awareness rising among consumers in Quito
Who’s joining me in my start-up? 😉
Según, el Global Network Footprint, hoy 19 de agosto sobrepasamos el límite de regeneración natural de la Tierra para este año… es decir que el resto del año 2014 viviremos fuera de nuestro presupuesto natural… cada año esta fecha llega más temprano, 1 de octubre en el 2000 vs 19 de agosto en el 2014… para reflexionar no? 🙂 Busquemos ser más consecuentes con nuestro discurso y busquemos vivir de manera más sostenible.
Les comparto el artículo de el Global Network Footprint:
In less than 8 Months, Humanity exhausts Earth’s budget for the year
y el de la WWF al respecto:
In the red for the rest of 2014: today we exceed nature’s budget
Ilustración: Alicia Franco