Brown, I. (1997) Biodiversity is Local Agenda 21. Magpie 39, pp.14-15.
by Ian Brown
Rio ’92 was an International Bio-diversity conference
This is a fact which May have been forgotten in all the activity which has been taking place in the run up to the production of Local Agenda 21 (LA21) Draft Statements but, the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was a bio-diversity (b-d) conference out of which came two international agreements:
• The aim of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
• The Convention on Biological Diversity, which requires countries to adopt ways and means to conserve the variety of living species and ensure that the benefits from using biological diversity are equally shared.
The definition of b-d should be self explanatory but if you are still unsure, see Gerald Dawes article. Why is it so important? One reason is that b-d is the BIG indicator, the most important single factor as far as the future of the planet is concerned. Two examples which affect the British Isles:
• International: Declining b-d in the Brazilian rain forest would indicate that destruction of the rain forest had gone too far. This could have a disastrous effect on our climate, and could already be happening.
• National: Lack of breeding success in Arctic Terns. Shortage of their main food, Sandeels, would indicate over-fishing, leading to an inability to feed ourselves.
What has all this to do with Manchester?
We ought to maintain b-d, even if only to set an example. flow can we tell people in other countries, or other pans of this country, not to destroy their ecosystems when we continue to destroy ours.
Maintaining and improving b-d, in Manchester, will be of benefit to people, both in Manchester and elsewhere. (We cannot improve b-d qualitatively on a global scale but a quantitative improvement will help to prevent loss of species. A qualitative improvement is possible, locally, as habitat improvements will encourage forms of wildlife, not present in Manchester, to colonise suitable areas.} Here are a couple of examples which can help, not only the variety of wildlife, but other aspects of ow’ everyday lives:
• Red Rose Forest: Planting trees will be of benefit, not only for b-d, but for employment, the economy, reduction of pollution, health and education. There would be little point planting trees on every open space and leaving them to get on with It. That would lead to a loss in b-d. Woodlands need management. This produces timber which can be used to make a variety of products. Using wood from a local resource, for local sale, will create many jobs and save on imports. It will also have the benefit of helping to save destruction of tropical rain forests.
• Hay Meadows: Most of the grassland in Manchester’s parks is cut on a regular basis. This is a great expense and costly in terms of fossil fuel use and a waste raw material (grass). Annual cutting as a hay crop would raise income and save those who need hay in Manchester (stables) having to buy from further afield. It would also be a great benefit to h-d; increasing the number, and variety, of wild plants, insects (particularly butterflies) and therefore the variety of other forms of wildlife.
There would also be benefits to other sectors of the community:
• Energy Use – Using wood, and charcoal, from sustainably managed woodland is carbon neutral.
• Transport – Trees help to absorb vehicle pollutants and noise. Using local raw materials cuts down on the need to transport.
• Waste and Pollution – Trees help to absorb general pollution. Making products from local wood, instead of burning or landfill. Traditionally made furniture, tools, etc. last longer than mass produced items.
• Economy and work – Employment in forestry and farming (haymaking). Reducing imports of raw materials. Traditionally made furniture, tools, etc. require more labour intensive work.
• Health and Safer City – Trees help to absorb general pollution.
• Education – Practical environmental education can be carried out locally.
In.previous articles on LA21 we have demonstrated how recycling, water saving and other measures can help wildlife, and how certain types of development can do harm. Here we have examples of how helping wildlife can help us in other ways. Unfortunately, at the moment, the emphasis seems to be on unsustainable developments such as second runways, multiplex cinemas, etc. (of which more elsewhere). We can only hope that wiser counsels prevail, but it doesn’t seem very likely.