Tuesday, 23 May 2017

2017 world biodiversity day

The United Nations General Assembly adopted 22nd May as International Day for Biodiversity (IDB) or World Biodiversity Day. This day is set aside to raise awareness about preserving endangered habitats and increase the global understanding of issues and challenges around biodiversity. 

Each year the celebrations focus on a particular theme. The theme for this year is, “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism.”

The theme highlights the link between sustainable tourism and biodiversity – one of tourism’s most valuable assets – and promotes sustainable tourism that balances the use of natural resources with sound conservation management. Sustainable tourism can provide vital income and employment for local communities, maintain local biodiversity and raise awareness of the importance of conservation.  

According to Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Biodiversity describes the foundation for all the lives, the variety and variability of living organisms. These include the marine, the terrestrial and the aquatic ecosystems.  The living organisms can be animals, plants or even   human beings. In other words, biodiversity is “the genetic, species and ecological diversity of the organisms in a given area. 

The importance of biodiversity cannot be overemphasized, it is a major pull factor for tourism. Diversity in species, ecosystems and landscapes attracts tourism and promotes economic growth.  In turn, a well-managed tourist sector can help reduce threats to key wildlife populations, and can maintain or increase biodiversity, through tourism revenue.

Nigeria generally is endowed with many tourism destinations that present a rich array of flora and fuana. In Akwa Ibom State some tourist sites include Blue River in Ukanafun LGA, Itu Bridgehead at Ayadehe that offers a variety of fish and seasonal boat regatta, Wild Life Sanctuary at Odiok ,Itu which is home to the endangered Sclater’s guenon (Nsimboebok). However, despite the rich biodiversity, our tourism potentials have not been fully maximized as is the case in other tourist countries due to a lack of political will to develop the sector, paucity of funds, epileptic electricity supply and ineffective transport infrastructure amongst others. Nigeria is losing income and employment opportunities for her teeming unemployed persons.

Biodiversity is extremely important to people and the health of ecosystems because:-

· It provides us with an array of foods and materials and contributes to the economy.  Without a diversity of pollinators, plants, and soils, our supermarkets would have a lot less produce. 

·  Most medical discoveries to cure diseases and lengthen life spans were made because of research into plant and animal biology and genetics.  Every time a species goes extinct or genetic diversity is lost, we will never know whether research would have given us a new vaccine or drug.

· Biodiversity is an important part of ecological services that make life livable on Earth. They include everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals, which wetlands do, to providing oxygen for us to breathe—one of the many things that plants do for people. 

·Biodiversity allows for ecosystems to adjust to disturbances like extreme fires and floods. 

·Genetic diversity prevents diseases and helps species adjust to changes in their environment. 

Even though extinction is a natural part of life on earth due to natural shifts in the environment that take place over long periods of time, species are going extinct at an accelerated and dangerous rate, because of non-natural environmental changes caused by human activities. Some of the activities have direct effects on species and ecosystems, such as:

·habitat loss/ degradation and over exploitation (such as overfishing, over-logging of timber, amongst others).

Spread of Non-native Species such as Nypa Palm invasion that is seriously threatening mangrove forests and wetlands along Akwa Ibom coastline. The invasion of water hyacinth in Lagos lagoon has impeded sailing and other water recreational activities.

·Spread of Diseases

Some human activities have indirect but wide-reaching effects on biodiversity, including Climate change and Pollution.

The Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve in Akwa Ibom, which used  to be a biodiversity hotspot that could boast of being home to endangered wild life such as elephants, hippopotamus, tigers and exotic plant species can no longer hold such forte due to habitat degradation resulting from oil exploitation/exploration activities and indiscriminate tree felling. Such has been the case with other tourism sites.

All of these threats have put a serious strain on the diversity of species on Earth.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), globally about one third of all known species are threatened with extinction. That includes 29% of all amphibians, 21% of all mammals and 12% of all birds.  If we do not stop the threats to biodiversity, we could be facing another mass extinction with dire consequences to the environment and human health and livelihood. 

As tourism develops alongside increasing environmental concerns, the tourism sector should be more aware than ever of its responsibility to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity.  In many areas where biodiversity is at threat, tourism can be a solution. It can be a way to conserve areas of natural beauty that might otherwise be destroyed, to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species and a source of income for local communities providing incentives for habitat protection. 


Tourism is often described as the world’s “biggest” industry on the basis of its contribution to global gross domestic product (GDP), the number of jobs it generates, and the number of clients it serves. The scale of the industry and the rate at which it continues to grow present both opportunities and threats for biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity is essential to human development because of the goods and services it provides. 

An estimated 40 percent of the global economy is based on biological products and processes. However, on a global scale, biodiversity is being lost at a rate many times higher than that of natural extinction. This is caused by a number of factors, including uncontrolled land conversion, climate change, pollution, unsustainable harvesting of natural resources, and the introduction of invasive species. So great is the concern over the rate of decline, and its implications for human welfare. 

There are few things as beautiful and inspiring as the diversity of life that exists on Earth. So, as we join other nations to celebrate world biodiversity day, let’s start locally and think globally to conserve biodiversity for today and posterity!  

Powered by Environmental Management Association of Nigeria (EMAN) Akwa Ibom State Chapter 

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