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Biodiversity in protecting world

INTERNATIONAL Biodiversity Day is observed on May 22 every year and the day is important in raising awareness about biodiversity and in deciding what to do about it. The day falls under the UN Sustainable Development Goals of the post-2015 development agenda. Biodiversity issues include sustainable agriculture, desertification, land degradation, drought, water, sanitation, health, sustainable development, power, science, technology and innovation, knowledge sharing and capacity-building, urban resilience and adaptability, sustainable transportation, climate change and disaster risk reduction, oceans and seas and forest.

In the world we live in, living beings are dependent on each other; each species has a different role to play in the ecosystem. Every living being is important to the environment in one way or another. Therefore, in the interest of maintaining the balance of the living world and protecting the environment, all living beings must be allowed to live.

Biodiversity is the whole living organism of the world including plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and the ecosystem composed of them. From the arid deserts to the forests, from the snow-capped mountains to the depths of the ocean, many species have survived without losing their natural balance. According to biologists, biodiversity is water, land, everything in the environment. It is diversity of species and plants.

All living beings on earth, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, are essentially genes and their ecosystems. At three different stages these are considered, hereditary diversity, species diversity and ecological diversity. Biodiversity helps to prevent the extinction of animals, helps to maintain the balance of nature. At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, representatives of more than 150 countries signed an agreement on the conservation of biodiversity. Bangladesh is also one of the signatories to this agreement. The total number of species in the biodiversity of Bangladesh is more than twelve thousands and the government is committed to protecting them.

Biodiversity plays a special role in maintaining ecological stability. Different peoples of the same ecosystem live interdependently. Therefore, as the diversity of species increases or the number of species increases, so does the balance and stability of the ecosystem. Extinction of any one plant or animal species in the ecosystem means disruption to the food chain associated with the plant or animal species concerned. Therefore, the importance of biodiversity in maintaining the overall balance of the ecosystem is immense.

Man is directly dependent on nature for his food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc. It is because of biodiversity that man is able to meet his growing food needs from nature. Not only do humans get food from a wide variety of plant species, they also get medicine, wood, paper, fiber, rubber, glue, resin, tannin, flowers, etc. Similarly, they get meat, dairy products, skins, feathers, wool, lacquer, honey, etc from such diverse animal species. Again, through the controlled use of different germs, different industrial products can be produced. In a word, people are directly or indirectly dependent on biodiversity for food and health.

The biodiversity of any country is the wealth of that country. One study found that freshwater mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have declined at an average rate of 4 per cent a year since 1970. Humans are increasing the risk of climate change and biodiversity. As a result, the risk of genetic (contagious disease from other animals) diseases like Covid-19 is increasing.

Biodiversity is essential for the overall conservation and functioning of the biosphere to prevent environmental pollution. Plants play a vital role in maintaining the supply of oxygen to the environment and in causing rainfall. Natural reservoirs including rivers, canals, low lands, ponds, haors and baors play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the environment and conserving biodiversity. In addition, wetlands are important for keeping the environment cool, preventing floods during the monsoon season, reducing waterlogging in the city, meeting water demand and treating waste.

But people are filling the wetlands as they wish. In Bangladesh, there is no shortage of rivers, canals, beels, ponds, ditches, haors. But there is a lack of conservation. One wetland after another is being filled. Kccording to the Natural Reservoir Conservation Act-2000, it is completely illegal to fill any pond, water reservoir, rivers and canals. The act also prohibits and penalizes the filling of ponds or reservoirs by any person, organisation, government or semi-government, or even an autonomous organisation. But it is a matter of regret that many influential individuals and organizations are destroying the balance of the environment by destroying the natural wetlands. This has had a long-term negative impact on people and biodiversity.

The Sundarbans, the single largest mangrove forest in the world, located along the Bay of Bengal and rich in biodiversity, for example, is under threat due to construction of industries in the forest areas.

Biodiversity conservation is recognized in the constitution as a fundamental state policy of Bangladesh. The Wildlife Conservation Ordinance was enacted in 1974. Bangladesh is one of the few countries that have enacted laws to implement the International Convention on Biodiversity. In 2017, the Bangladesh Biological Diversity Act was passed. Bangladesh has also declared more than 5 per cent of its territory and about 5 per cent of its maritime area as ‘at risk’ and protected.

It is high time the authorities translated the acts and regulations into reality and protected the biodiversity of the country for the sake of all.

Md Zillur Rahaman is a banker and columnist.

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