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Biodiversity and Me

I remember hearing all about ecosystems and endangered species while in secondary school, but to be completely honest, I didn’t pay enough attention to what was being said; I thought it was really sad and pointless. You’d think I would have come out with a plethora of environmental knowledge, but maybe the information taught was not impressed upon me enough to fully understand the issues and how they applied to my life or how important it was that I contribute in some way to help save the ecosystem and prevent a further decline of endangered species.

I do know now, and frankly, I feel somewhat cheated in my environmental education. There are some really cool, not to mention significant, things going on in our fragile ecosystems. For example, the tamarisk, a tree native to Eurasia, was brought to the United States early in the 19th century for erosion control on the Great Plains and it liked it here. In fact, it thrived here and started killing off the native flora and fauna, as invasive species are known to do. That’s pretty interesting on its own, but then to fix the problem, the tree’s natural predator, the tamarisk leaf beetle was imported. I know, that seems like a terrible idea. Introducing a non-native species is how the mess started in the first place, but fear not. Researchers found that the beetles preferred the tamarisks over any of the native plant life and, as luck would have it, they wouldn’t eat any native plant life. They would simply starve to death if there were no tamarisks – they were very picky eaters. Although progress is slow, it seems the problem is solved.

Black Footed FerretThen, there are the Black Footed Ferrets. These adorable creatures are endangered due to destruction of their habitat. It breaks my heart, but the bright side is that efforts to save these angels – while challenging – is finding success! It inspires a hope for our future. Declining animal populations absolutely can be reversed. We can do something about it.

In fact, there are many people and organizations doing something to facilitate positive change in our ecosystems and endangered species populations. There is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an agreement between international governments to protect wildlife and the United States Government’s Endangered Species Act, which protects endangered or threatened species with mandated protection of habitat and hunting prohibition of that species. There are also non-governmental agencies like the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Wildlife Conservation Society and a growing number of integral public organizations like seed banks and zoos.

I think it’s important as a society that we teach – and learn – about the ecological issues facing us with a confident, “let’s fix it” approach. If we want future generations to believe in a path of sustainability, we must nurture our own.

For these reasons, I appreciated Facing the Future’s enlightening examination of biodiversity, sustainability with the related problems currently faced, and finalizing with an exploration of solutions. Almost all of the case studies and examples included a focus on biodiversity problems and solutions. Overall, I was lifted by a sense of hope, which in turn motivates me to be part of the solution.

Toria Van Horst

Toria is a connoisseur of life. When she is not in the active pursuit of knowledge or developing one of her many skills, she can be found lying on the floor until the pull of boredom forces her to go poke her roommate for an adventure. Her passions include social dancing, food consumption and adventuring in the great outdoors. She’s excited to be able to use one of those passions in her work for Facing the Future.


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