5th Station – Our relationship with LIFE ON LAND
Find yourself a quiet space to work, with internet access. Have a pen and paper to hand and access to the BIODIVERSITY – What I will do and why worksheet either in hard copy or online. For the “Appreciating LIFE ON LAND” activity at the end, you will need paper and coloured pens or paints, or access to appropriate software package to design a campaign poster.
The Earth as a complex matrix of living and inorganic systems, all interacting to maintain a stable balance. This is what we refer to as Biodiversity, and its myriad interactions have made Earth habitable for billions of years. When one component of the larger matrix is damaged or destroyed, it creates an imbalance and the others respond in their unique ways in attempting to restore the natural order of things. Due to the inter-connectedness and interdependence of the natural world individual habitat loss and species extinction can have a profoundly damaging effect on a global scale.
The many threats to biodiversity include over-exploitation or unnecessary use of resources e.g. through poaching or over fishing, over-fertilisation of soils and dwindling habitats. As the human population rises, more and more wild areas, including forests, are converted to farmland, housing and industrial sites. Poaching and unsustainable hunting for food is another major factor with more than 300 mammal species, from chimpanzees to hippos to bats, being eaten into extinction. Pollution affects marine life, and rivers and lakes are being depleted through water extraction for human consumption in homes and through farming.
Watch and Learn:
Choose one or more of the following three film clips to get an overview of some of the fundamentals of biodiversity. As you go consider the following questions (and make notes).
- What is biodiversity and why is it important?
- What happens, or could happen, as a result of loss of biodiversity?
- What threatens the biodiversity of our planet? In what ways?
- What can we do about it?
David Attenborough (WWF International): What is biodiversity?
In this short film, David Attenborough explains how and why the incredible variety of animals and plants on earth is the magic ingredient that enables the world to work smoothly.
Dr Steve Morton (CSIRO): What is biodiversity and why is it important
In this short film Dr Steve Morton explains biodiversity and the origins of the concept, discussing the different values that humans obtain from biodiversity and the role we will need to play in shaping its future.
Kim Preshof – Why is Biodiversity so important?
In this short film Kim Preshof tells us that whilst the earth’s diverse, thriving ecosystems may seem like permanent fixtures, they are vulnerable to collapse, and explains how biodiversity makes one ecosystem strong and another weak in the face of change.
Watch and Learn Task:
You are now going to explore one of the many practices that has a negative impact on biodiversity, and discover some of the successful ways that impact is being addressed and the issue tackled. Choose one of the topics below and watch three or more of the short films on that topic page. As you go consider the following questions (write these headings down and make notes under them):
- Can you identify four or more ways in which this practice threatens or impacts biodiversity?
- What might be the future effects if nothing is done?
- Are there situations where this practice is positive if done in the right way and/ or for the right reasons? What are they?
- How do you explain the importance of preservation of species to people for whom this practice is their livelihood?
- What can we do to effect change?
Choose one of:
We are all in this together:
Having established that biodiversity loss is a major environmental concern, the next question is: What can we do about it? Many of the large-scale solutions involve international cooperation at governmental level and political policy making. We can influence and support this process as individuals and by mobilising communities to campaign for change and to support positive government policies and actions that are designed to conserve our valuable ecosystems. As consumers and citizens we can also affect change through changing our behaviours and choices, and through campaigning to raise awareness in others.
Consolidate your learning:
Find your “BIODIVERSITY – What I will do and why” worksheet (or draw your own version). Take a look at the following online written sources and then use your notes from your chosen topic to capture your thoughts about behaviours you can change and actions that you can take (and encourage your friends and family to take) to make a contribution to preserving and protecting Biodiversity:
Discuss your thoughts with your friends and family (and classmates if you are connected online) and include some of their ideas.
Appreciating LIFE ON LAND – a creative activity:
Having spent some time exploring one way in which humans can have a negative impact on biodiversity, your creative task is to:
- put together a compelling argument for changing behaviours that impact on biodiversity (or your chosen topic that contributes to biodiversity loss);
- decide on a call-to-action: what specifically are you going to ask people to do;
- design a campaign poster or 5 slide presentation; and
- present your campaign to your classmates if you are working together online.
Consider the following:
- Any controversial argument should be balanced, so demonstrate that you understand why people may need to poach animals.
- Avoid emotive arguments, try to use evidence that you can substantiate from the resources that you have reviewed.
When you are building a campaign strategy and preparing a presentation about it, always think of the following components:
- What are your goals?
- Who is your audience and what is their current opinion likely to be?
- What are your key messages about the topic?
- What are their objections likely to be and can you address them through your campaign?
When preparing your campaign poster or presentation:
- Avoid lots of text on your slides or poster – make it visually impactful;
- Use statistics and graphs to illustrate your points; and
- State your core messages and goals clearly.