Commentary

Biodiversity and Local Resilience

Biodiversity is essential for maintaining resilient ecosystems and livability and it is vital to our quality of life and a thriving economy. Personally, it’s important for enhancing benefits like health, comfort, and beauty in our lives.
Photo by henry perks on Unsplash
Published on
January 27, 2023
Contributors
Allies and Partners
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ACES Leadership and Youth Corps

Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions fostering environmental about stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES — The Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

National Geographic says that “biodiversity refers to the variety of living species on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi.” Biodiversity is important because it produces ecological resiliency which allows ‘life’ to survive cataclysmic disasters. Globally it’s important for maintaining resilient ecosystems and livability and it is key to our quality of life and a thriving economy. Personally, it’s important for enhancing benefits like health, comfort and beauty in our lives.

Biodiversity is one of the drivers of our regional ecotourism economy with bird watching, hunting, fishing, whale watching, and nature photography drawing large numbers of out-of-state as well as international visitors.

As Parker River Refuge’s Matt Hillman wrote last week in this column: “Among the throngs are wildlife enthusiasts and photographers in a frenzy over the refuge’s charismatic and highly photogenic residents…. a pair of barred owls and a pack of coyotes.”

And it’s not just the refuge that has such wide variety of species. Lawrence has its winter crow roost with thousands of birds gathering along the Spicket River drawing wildlife photographers and adventurist tourists. Whale watching is a large economic engine with boats of ecotourists shipping out of Newburyport and Gloucester. We even have “endangered” whales in our coastal waters, including the Humpback Whale whose Latin name means ‘big winged New Englander’.

Biodiversity isn’t just about local eco-tourism though. It’s extremely important for the resiliency of all life on earth. As the planet warms, habitats are polluted and forests are cut. How will animals and humans adapt to those changes? Which crops can still grow? The lobster population of the Gulf of Maine is shifting northward. Some tree species are being found in higher elevations. Some species adapt by hybridizing with local residents.

For instance, as Matt Hillman referenced as a backstory to last week’s ACES essay “It is generally accepted that the eastern coyote is a wolf-coyote hybrid. Coyotes are relative newcomers to the east when humans exterminated all wolves and cleared all forest for farmland throughout the Ohio River Valley. This allowed the western solitary and smaller coyote to push eastward, hybridizing with Great Lakes and Canada wolves in the process. Their behaviors are now very much a combination of coyote and wolf.”

Biodiversity is a global concept. It includes all life forms on the planet, and it infiltrates every aspect of our own life locally whether we are aware of it on daily basis or not.

Because it’s so important to preserve biodiversity, ACES, and its allies advocate locally for setting aside and conserving a wide variety of land like West Newbury did with 32 more acres recently. Keeping a variety of wild lands and waters protected is a good policy to support, like ACES allies — Greenbelt, the Trustees, The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, and Maple Crest Farm. Each of them and others conserve land and waters and provide public education to help spread the word about biodiversity.

Being conscious in planning for urban parks and trails, like in Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury to be knitted together as a network bio-corridor is important. That’s so that many species can roam from paths to patches and make a larger, integrated ecosystem for the species living in it.

Let’s all focus in 2023 on “biodiversity”. ACES urges each of us to read about it and take on one or two small actions to preserve biodiversity near you. Leave some corners or edges of your yard to grow a bit wild. Plan and plant a pollinator garden using native plants. Put up bird houses. Have the kids make little rock and stick faerie houses. Chipmunks may move into them.

So please join ACES in making 2023 a year of biodiversity. Drop us a note at acesnewburyport@gmail. com and let us know how you would like to help.

To learn more about ACES and its Initiatives, visit https://www.aces-alliance. org.

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