Will 2022 be better than 2021? It is up to us to improve it by capitalizing on past experience and linking local actions to global needs.
The global biodiversity crisis is one of the top three threats to our survival along with climate change and increasing pollution. Pest outbreaks and outbreaks are on the rise, many of our most important fisheries have collapsed, an insect apocalypse is underway, North America has lost 30% of its birds in the past 50 years and we are facing the greatest extinction in 66 million years. Moreover, the effects of the crisis are felt inequitably on the inhabitants of our planet, with the poorest and most exploited suffering the most from famine and associated diseases.
We know the causes of the problem. Our modern industrial civilization has eliminated many natural habitats, fragmented most others, and spread invasive species. Declines in human and non-human diversity are linked. While only 20% of the land in the world is still managed by indigenous peoples, these contain 80% of the remaining biodiversity.
We also know the solution. For 30 years, we have had the International Convention on Biological Diversity to guide us.
The recent deaths of environmental activists EO Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy drew attention not only because they had done so much to raise awareness of the crisis, but also because they had suggested specific measures to address it. face. Wilson’s “Half-Earth” bold goal of permanently preserving 50% of the planet for nature inspired our state and national “30×30” projects to conserve 30% by 2030.
What can the people of Marin do to help? Although most recognize the need for concerted action at the highest level, few have the opportunity to attend international conferences or set state or national policy. The good news is that there are significant local opportunities.
A beneficial side effect of the pandemic-induced lockdowns has been that many people have begun to observe their immediate surroundings more carefully. This has helped to counteract the long trend of alienation of humans from their environment.
In Marin, many of us have been able to benefit from little bits of healed ecosystems where we live and work. These included school gardens, neighborhood parks, municipal buildings and even traffic islands. They are the result of the efforts of neighbors who came together to re-establish important connections – first with each other, then with the native plants, insects, birds and other species that called Marin home long before historical events. of colonization. Milkweeds, monarchs, poppies and bumblebees have once again entered our daily lives.
To encourage this process, the Marin Biodiversity Corridor Initiative was created. Attendees include members of many of Marin’s well-known environmental groups, community associations and businesses. “Corridor” conveys the general idea of connection, as well as the more specific concepts of ecological links between habitats and the land use categories of the departmental plan.
The initiative has four main objectives. The first is to support neighborhood home improvement projects by offering site-specific advice to promote diversity, sustainability and long-term well-being. It’s especially timely now that recurring droughts and increased fire danger are prompting people to make the landscapes around them safer and more responsible, as well as beautiful.
The second objective is to build a database and map of the projects to show the “big picture” of how all the parts fit together. This is complementary to ongoing county-wide wilderness mapping. The third goal is to improve the plans and ordinances of counties and municipalities that do not properly recognize the diversity crisis. The fourth objective is to carry out education and awareness activities so that relevant, reliable and useful information is available. accessible to everyone.
The group set the tone for present and future work by commemorating the first Marine Biodiversity Day on October 27, 2021. It sponsored a talk by ecologist and author Douglas Tallamy, who originated the idea of the “park local national” and well known for encouraging people to ask, “What can I do in my own garden?
The many crises we face are serious. But desperation is not an option. When it comes to the biodiversity crisis, our group is ready to help you with positive actions that can help you make the new year better than the old – where you are right now.
Paul da Silva from Larkspur and Bonnie Morse from San Rafael are the organizers of the Marin Biodiversity Corridor Initiative.