Tomorrow, the first of September, is the first day of spring! Not only will we have warmer weather and longer days, our energy and heating requirements will be reduced – great news for all carbon cutting champions. It’s also going to be a busy month – September is World Biodiversity Month and will be packed with events that you can join to help preserve our planet.
We all have good cause to celebrate World Biodiversity Month here in South Africa, as our country is the third most biodiversity-rich country in the world! Although our country covers just 2% of the world’s land area, it is home to nearly 10% of the world’s plants and 7% of the reptiles, birds and mammals and 5.5% of insects. Our coast is home to almost 15% of known coastal marine species.
But we also have many reasons not to celebrate. With the effects of climate change and the unpredictable changing weather patterns our biodiversity is under threat. Our planet’s capacity to continue to absorb the by-products of human activities such as gases and various toxins is in question, as is its capacity to provide the resources that growing human populations are projected to need in future.
• over 400 of South Africa’s plant and animal species are threatened with extinction;
• 34% of South Africa’s ecosystems are threatened, with 5% critically endangered;
• 18% of South Africa’s land has been transformed or degraded;
• almost half of South Africa’s river systems are critically endangered;
• over 7 million hectares of land in South Africa have been invaded by alien plants.
What can we do?
Well, with the first week in September being Arbour week, the International Day for the Protection of the Ozone Layer Day (16th), International Coastal Clean-up Day (18th) World Car-Free Day (22nd) and Heritage Day (24th) all falling in September there will be many ways which you can make a difference this month.
First on the list this month: plant an indigenous tree for Arbour week. Planting and conserving trees (especially indigenous) offsets carbon emissions and contributes to urban greening. Every 5 or 6 new trees planted, which can live for 50 -100 years, offset 1 ton of carbon dioxide. Different trees absorb different amounts of CO2 and older trees absorb greater amounts of greenhouse gases, than new trees. The tree for 2010 is Acacia Xanthophloea Fever tree, Koorsboom. More information: http://www.greenworks.co.za/arbourday.html
International Day for the Protection of the Ozone layer.
In 1985, nations around the world convened at Vienna in an attempt to develop a framework for co-operative activities to protect the Ozone layer. This signed agreement became known as the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Since 1995 the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
We have made progress on fixing this planetary vulnerability, proof we can turn things around on climate change?
Recycling Day – a good day to organise your home recycling system, or start a recycling scheme at your work or school. More information: http://www.recyclingday-sa.co.za/
International Coastal Cleanup Day. The International Coastal Cleanup started in 1986 and now happens in over 100 countries with more than 350 000 volunteers. Join a group and help remove debris and rubbish from our shorelines, waterways and oceans. Each year, countless marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals are sickened, injured, or killed because of dangerous items we allow into the sea. They are poisoned, choked, or entangled in the trash we leave behind, from leaky paint cans to empty yogurt cups to cast-off fishing line.
Clean up events are happening across South Africa. Find an event near you: http://www.cleanup-sa.co.za/cleanupdiary.htm
World Car Free Day – leave your car behind today and walk or cycle to work or school instead. Around the world, Car Free Day is celebrated by more than 1392 cities to help highlight the pollution caused by cars, not just the fumes but the whole cycle of waste and disruption, the noise, delayed journeys, the whole human misery caused by traffic congestion and car pollution. Almost 40% of the transport sector’s CO2 emissions are produced by the use of private cars in cities. If you can avoid using your car on the 22nd September even for one journey you will be helping reduce pollution in your area and show the world you care! Who knows you might even save a little money and enjoy the change of pace.
More information: http://www.metta.org.uk/car_free_day.asp or http://www.worldcarfree.net/
For more information on trees:
Link to a 2010 trees of the year poster:
More information on biodiversity: