35,500 species are facing extinction
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species reports more than 35,000 species facing extinction, almost 30% of all the assessed species.
But assessed is not the same as existing. In fact, there are just short of 2 million known species worldwide, but scientists estimate that around 80% of all species are still unknown – the true figure might be around the 10 million mark.
What is known is that over the last 100 years more than half of animals species have disappeared from the face of the planet. Today, among the species assessed by the IUCN, over 6,000 are considered “Critically Endangered”, meaning that they are species on the brink of extinction in the wild.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the loss of biodiversity depends on these rising pressures on nature:
- Loss and degradation of habitats
- Climate change
- Overuse of nutrients
- Overexploitation of species and habitats
- Invasive species
Consequences of biodiversity loss
The loss of biodiversity does not only result in the obvious loss of animal and plant species. The planet is a very complex system, where all the parts are deeply interlinked.
The way we eat changes
If there are no bees, the pollination of plants that are part of our diet is at risk; without soil renewal the land loses its ability to stay naturally fertile; in an unbalanced system, what nature provides has to be done by humans, artificially.
The economy suffers
With biodiversity loss, jobs disappear and prosperity shrinks.
The risk of contact with infectious diseases increases
The destruction of habitats, the erasure of species, and the emergence of invasive species make ecosystems more vulnerable to infectious diseases and mutations within them.
Nature gains destructive power
By losing certain coastal ecosystems, others become more exposed to natural elements. For instance, mangroves and coral reefs provide protection again tsunamis and storm surges. Fire-resistant trees and vegetation stop wild fires from spreading.
The picture of biodiversity across Portugal, Poland and Colombia
In Portugal alone, of the 3,000 species assessed by IUCN Red List, about 300 are considered endangered and critically endangered. More than 200 are considered to be in a vulnerable state.
Some of the currently critically endangered species in Portugal are the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), the common skate (Dipturus batis), the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), the sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius), the slender-billed curlew (Numenius tenuirostris), or the balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus).
In Poland, 36 species of the 1,600 assessed are endangered or critically endangered. It is urgent to protect the European weasel (Mustela lutreola), the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), or the beautiful yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola).
In Colombia, more than 800 of the 11,000 species assessed by the IUCN are endangered and almost 300 are in a critical situation. The Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius), the brown spider monkey (Ateles hybridus), the Caquetá titi monkey (Callicebus caquetensis), or even the largetooth sawfish (Pristis pristis) are some of the most threatened. In the plantae kingdom, there are over a hundred trees, plants and flowers at risk.
Preserving biodiversity is in our hands
Get some inspiration and ideas on how to promote the preservation of biodiversity in your community:
Support nature protection associations
Try not to disturb wildlife in their habitats
Especially if you are hiking, taking a walk or camping.
Reduce the environmental footprint
This way, you’ll contribute to delay global warming.
Avoid light pollution
Light pollution disturbs nocturnal species like mice, owls, moths, or some migrating bird species. Use bulbs that do not blind animals, point your outside lamps down and turn them off as soon as you move inside.
Buy and consume certified products
Buy and consume sustainable fish and seafood
Pay special attention to threatened species, their sizes, origins and fishing methods.
Avoid wasting water
Whenever possible, use rainwater to water the garden or the so-called greywater (dishwater, bath or shower) to fill the toilet tank.
Create pollinator sanctuaries
Follow the example of the council of Brent, a borough in London, and plant wildflowers in your garden to attract bees and other pollinators.
Eliminate the use of chemical pesticides
In your garden, balcony, or backyard choose products that do not harm the environment or pollute the soils.
A more balanced diet
By increasing the proportion of fruit and vegetables you eat in relation to the amount of meat you will also benefit your health.
Jerónimo Martins and the preservation of biodiversity
Get to know some of the initiatives supported by the Jerónimo Martins Group for the preservation of biodiversity in the three countries where it is present.
In a partnership with Quercus, Jerónimo Martins has been supporting the environmental citizenship project SOS Polinizadores (SOS Pollinators) since 2014, through which promotes awareness-raising actions on pollinator species preservation and biodiversity, with local councils, farmers, beekeepers, technicians, and school communities.
At the Lisbon Zoo, the Group has proudly become the patron of the ring-tailed lemur, a large primate that is currently an endangered species. Jerónimo Martins sponsorship covers all the expenses associated with preserving this species since 2015.
The forest of Serra do Açor (Açor mountain range), ravaged by the 2017 forest fires in central Portugal, is being supported by the Jerónimo Martins Group, which has invested five million euro into its reforestation. Over the next 40 years, this project aims at not only to reforest but also to preserve the Serra do Açor, by planting tree species that are more fire-resistant.
The Group supports WWF Portugal’s Green Heart of Cork project, which focuses in the conservation of the cork oak forest ecosystem. The world’s largest patch of this type of forest is located in the lower Tagus and Sado rivers valley, covering an area of half a million hectares and located over the largest Iberian aquifer.
In Colombia, the Group and ProAves have created the Macaw Protection Project in 2019, which contributes to the protection of five species of macaw in the forest reserve of Montes de Oca. In 2019 only, more or less 1,000 trees of 16 different species were planted in an area of 58 km².
Now that you already know what to do to protect biodiversity, let’s do it?