was is the International Year of Biodiversity. The IYB is meant to help raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity, which goes beyond “I want my children to enjoy it” or “Any species could hold the cure for cancer and thus should be preserved”: biodiversity allows ecosystems to recover more easily from disaster, contributes to climate stability, … . Who wants to read more about it, can get more information here and here.
News on the disappearance of the tiger, of many fish species, … reaches us everyday, and draws a grim picture of the way our planet is headed. However, there áre positive stories of conservation and reintroduction, that show that not only are we capable of wiping entire species from the Earth’s surface: if we put our minds to it, we can take responsibility, reverse the consequences of our actions and book success, giving back other species the space they deserve.
The story of the Iberian Lynx is not a success-story (yet), but it may very well become one, and a very remarkable one at that. One major threat of biodiversity is the introduction of new species, which can easily destabilize a whole ecosystem: viruses previously unknown can do unseen damage to indigenous species who never had the chance to build resistance, new predators can virtually kill an entire species – the list of human-introduced invasive species is impressive. However, climate change may cause this type of invasion part of the strategy to save entire species. While this sounds contradictory, it may prove to be useless to preserve a species in its “natural” habitat, as that habitat changes and becomes unlivable for the “saved” animal. Other regions, on the other hand, may develop to be a more suitable habitat than the “historical” one. However, the widespread occurrence of one particular species (i.e. Homo sapiens) may strongly inhibit the animals to reach the new Promised Land. So why not help them a hand? It is called assisted migration and seems highly interesting, albeit controversial. But who knows, it may be the preservation technique of the future (and is certainly easier to do than genetically manipulate to species to adapt to its changed environment). (via Oregon Expat)
There is much more that could be done – that should be done, even, and it is highly unlikely we will be able to stop the rapid extinction of species any time soon, but the above stories show that it is possible, and that, in and of itself, opens possibilities. Who wants more positive stories may find some on the site of the Nature Conservancy, or just keeps an eye on his/her local journal: positive stories are everywhere, you just have to want to find them.