The Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) joins with the Department of the Environment today to observe World Biodiversity Day held annually on May 22nd.
According to officials at the DMCA, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and bush fires may all affect the many different ecosystems on our island. Initially, these natural hazards negatively affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems by causing the spread of invasive species, mass species mortality and loss of habitat.
In the short term, select ecosystem degradation reduces the ability of forests to process carbon dioxide, which exacerbates climate change. Over time though, many types of natural hazards play an integral role in rejuvenating the very ecosystem that they once destroyed, but if there are endemic plants/animals in the area of concern, they might disappear due to a sudden change in the area.
As in the case of tsunamis, there’ll be loss of livelihood for fishermen to unknown damages to coral reefs and flora and fauna where the waves came a few miles inland. In some fragile areas, it may take years for the coral reefs to get back the balance and coastal tree plantations may have been destroyed or severely affected.
Research has shown that a healthy ecosystem can mitigate the impacts of hazard events such as landslides and bush fires, hence biodiversity is the fundamental basis for the health of the ecosystem.
Everybody has a role to play in reducing disaster risk and biodiversity conservation such as taking the necessary steps to prevent fires and landslides, use natural barriers such as coral reefs and mangroves against tsunamis, recycle, buy sustainable, drive green, go package free, set up a compost pile for organic waste, plant local flora and take the time to clean up animal habitat such as beaches and forests.
At the Government level, there needs to be a commitment by all to invest in developing capacity and allocating financial resources to assess the economic and human consequences of changes in ecosystem services as part of their national planning processes and strategies.
When governments and vulnerable communities combine biodiversity conservation practices with humanitarian efforts after natural hazard impacts which may result in a disaster, it’s possible to build back safer and improve resilient ecosystem - for both people and the environment.