By Cristian Frers
It is not possible to focus on improving crop yields without taking into account soil fertility, weeds, pests, pathogens and pollinating animals. The felling of trees, the desiccation of wetlands, the spraying on slopes, among others, can have irreversible impacts on the environment.
Currently, there is a common cause for concern, it is the fact that human activities have reduced biological diversity on a global, national and regional scale and that this trend has not shown signs of changing. This is manifested in the loss of animal and plant populations, in the extinction and depletion of resources, and in the simplification of ecosystems and communities.
A frequent problem is the lack of basic information on the resources of each nation or region, very few have inventories or basic biological studies and many lack a simple environmental map of the area. Most lack specific management plans or lack financial means and specialized personnel, apart from a limited institutional organization. For this reason, adequate strategies are required in planning and resource management, which allow, on the one hand, to reverse the degradation of ecosystems and, on the other, to ensure the contribution they make to human well-being.
The extinction of plant and animal species is one of the most worrying symptoms, since it constitutes an irreversible process that deprives us forever of a unique and irreplaceable genetic material of which we may not even know yet what practical applications it may have for the benefit of the same humanity that destroys them. This is perhaps the easiest concept to understand in the materialistic and interested world in which we usually move, but it is not the only reason that advises the conservation of species. Indeed, the mere fact of not substantially altering the delicate fabric that unites living beings together, and that reminds us that each species occupies a peculiar ecological niche that, with its extinction, either remains vacant or is occupied by other more ubiquitous species. With which singular food chains are simplified or disappear, and as if this were not enough, the sole right to coexist on planet Earth in plant and animal species should be established as the main argument to avoid extinction by all means.
The concern does not come from the fact that some species is disappearing, but because it is feared that we are witnessing a massive extinction. What worries, and very seriously, is the possibility of causing a catastrophe that will drag down the human species itself.
The organisms that have inhabited the Earth since the appearance of life until today have been very varied. Living beings have been continually evolving, forming new species while others are disappearing. It is estimated that only about 1% of the species that have ever inhabited the planet survive today.
If we calculate the extinction rate at this time, based on the numbers of species per area, taking into account the loss of tropical forests (approximately 1/3 in the last 40 years), 50,000 species are extinct per year (only 7,000 of them known). This represents 10,000 times the natural rate of extinction and represents 5% of the total species per decade. If these numbers continue, by the end of the 21st century, two-thirds of Earth's species will have disappeared.
Decisive measures and actions need to be taken to conserve and maintain genes, species and ecosystems, with a view to sustainable management and use of biological resources. The national government, the provincial governments, and the municipalities should undertake a joint path in order to establish goals that would allow a better understanding of the biological reality and the design of adequate strategies so that resources could be used in a sustained manner. In this sense, it is important to implement plans and programs that will develop the evaluation, study and systematic observation of biodiversity. Some of the measures to take into account would be:
-Promote an environmentally adequate economic development, based on the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity, encouraging the participation of the private and public sector for these purposes.
-Strengthen the coordination between the interested parties, as well as the promotion of norms and commercial practices that promote the sustainable use of biological diversity.
-Obtaining financial resources and promoting the fair and equitable participation in the benefits derived from the use of biological diversity, including environmental goods and services.
-Select and follow projects related to: identification and valorization of the components of biodiversity, rehabilitation and restoration of degraded ecosystems, among others.
-Ensure that all use of species and ecosystems is sustainable.
Argentina as a member of this same spacecraft, planet Earth, where men create borders and nature is responsible for eliminating them, has not remained on the sidelines of the problem of extinction, which although it did not reach catastrophic characteristics, worsens day by day. day. There is a lack of real public awareness of the issue on the part of all sectors so that a sharp turn of the wheel is really hit that takes us away from the danger of losing the most significant exponents of our native flora and fauna in the coming years.
Fortunately, the immensity of the country and the vast extensions that cover most of its natural environments have still made it possible to safeguard most of our floristic and fauna exponents today, although we are far from that idea of environmental virginity that prevailed until ago few years. These resources have been used irrationally in the last 50 years, causing the loss of a high percentage of their components. The most unfortunate thing is that the true potentialities that ecosystems harbor in their integrity are unknown.
Argentina presents an extensive and varied natural and cultural diversity that must be known and preserved for these and future generations. All sectors and social actors that are involved must be integrated into the development processes, in order to respect the cultural identity of each region. The use-preservative of the biological and genetic resources that different biomes contain, will play a fundamental role in establishing the guidelines for the progressive improvement of the socioeconomic conditions that our population possesses.
The main benefit of biodiversity is not the direct use of species, but the balanced functioning of ecosystems. The provision of drinking water, the regulation of the climate, the control of erosion and desertification, the fertility of the soils, the recycling of nutrients, the fight against pests, the maintenance of pastures, the renewal of fishing and waste treatment, as well as other intangible environmental services such as prevention of natural disasters, options for leisure and tourism or nature's own ability to regenerate, all depend on the functions of the planet, to maintain basic functions of ecosystems that have found their balance over the centuries. All levels of biodiversity are interrelated. It is not possible to focus on improving crop yields without taking into account soil fertility, weeds, pests, pathogens and pollinating animals. The felling of trees, the drying up of wetlands, the fumigation on slopes, among others, can have irreversible impacts on the environment and its use. Conserving biodiversity means knowing how to manage nature in a sustainable way, for ourselves and for future generations.
Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication