SDG 15, May 22 International Biodiversity Day, and challenges

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Ballescas - The Freeman

Simply known for its focus -LIFE ON LAND- Sustainable Development (SDG 15) aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

Our present world has been described as ‘currently facing the largest species extinction event since the dinosaur age --affecting 1 million animal and plant species!

Human actions have also significantly altered three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment!

This May 22, the entire global community is seriously reminded and urgently called upon to commemorate the International Biodiversity Day (IBD) and be #Part of the Plan to “halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by supporting the implementation of the 2022 Biodiversity Plan (the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework) which offers opportunities for cooperation and partnerships among diverse actors among governments, indigenous peoples and local communities, non-governmental organizations, lawmakers, businesses, and individuals.”

The IBD intends to make everyone remember that “when biodiversity has a problem, humanity has a problem.

Biological diversity refers to the wide variety of plants/animals/microorganisms and the variety of ecosystems (lakes/forests/deserts/agricultural landscapes) that host multiple kind of interactions among their members (humans/plants/animals).

The May 22 IBD alerts all to reexamine the valuable contribution of biodiversity to human life and civilization.

Some important highlights: “fish provide 20% of animal protein to about 3 billion people while plants provide over 80% of the human diet.”

Our present world is now challenged by the “interlinked triple planetary crisis (climate change-biodiversity loss-pollution) which requires a comprehensive integrated solution to attain SDG 15 and the rest of the SDGs for a better sustainable future for people and planet.

The May 22 IBD urges us to reflect deeply on our relationship with the natural world --that we humans are totally dependent on for water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter, energy, and more!

Two current challenges facing Cebu should serve as wake-up call that further biodiversity loss should immediately be addressed, halted, and avoided to protect people and Mother Earth in this part of the world.

Global Forest Watch data showed that Cebu Island and Cebu City lost a total of 10.1 kilo-hectare (kha) about 10,100 hectares of tree cover, by percent canopy cover of less than 30%, from 2001 to 2022.

Some important drivers for the loss of tree cover included deforestation, mechanical harvesting, fire, disease, or storm damage.

2023 data showed that while Cebu Province had about 97 kha of natural forest, for the same year, Cebu lost about 74 hectares of tree cover.

The province saw a -1.59 percent decline in tree cover in the past two decades especially in the estimated 30,000-hectare Central Cebu Protected Landscape, which is home to crucial forestlands and watersheds spread

Asturias, in northern Cebu, lost the most tree cover, over 1,100 hectares, followed by Balamban (659 hectares), Cebu City (617 hectares), Tuburan (593 hectares), and Toledo City (497 hectares).

In Poro town, Camotes Island, Cebu, the Sto. Niño de Poro Parish and residents are continuing their protest vs. the provincial and LGU plan to cut down 700 trees for road widening, including centuries-old lomboy, acacia, and bangkal.

Since January, the Catholic Church with resident supporters, gathered various stakeholders to a public hearing, had a prayer rally, and a signature campaign (1,664 as of May 16).

These important messages from the Poro protesters:

“Save Mother Earth.”

“These trees are older than you.”

“Trees are indispensable for our ecosystem…We need sustainable, well-balanced environment not just in the name of economic progress at the expense of the environment.”

Let’s all support Poro! Remember, the International Biodiversity Day theme!

Be #Part of the Plan to “halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity.”

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