The International Day of Biodiversity will be held this year on Wednesday, May 22. Years ago, this day was declared by the United Nations. That means the topic is important. But what is biodiversity? And why is it important? 

Biodiversity

Simply put, everything that lives in nature such as plants, trees, animals, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms falls under biodiversity. This includes not only variation between species, but also variation within species.

Each species has its own lifestyle: that means there are differences in what it eats, where it nests, how it reproduces and how it raises its young. These differences also have to do with where the species occurs; it is clear that South America has different plants and animals than we have. But also in the Netherlands, biodiversity differs per region, region and even per garden. Then it is not about the house sparrow, because we see them everywhere, but more about species of insects and animals in the ground.

Bees and bumblebees

A rich biodiversity is important. Because we owe our food, as well as drinkable water, oxygen and clean air to it. To make that clear, let's take bees as an example. Without pollination by bees, bumblebees and other insects, we would miss more than a third of our food. Pollination by insects is necessary for more than 75% of food crops. Without bees and bumblebees, we would not have fruits like cherries, apples, raspberries and mangoes. And vegetables like zucchini, peppers and avocados would also disappear without the bee.

The bees themselves need food, of course, and that is what flowers are for: for fuel (sugars from the nectar), but also to build their bodies (pollen). Unfortunately, the bee and other insects are not doing well. Habitats are being disturbed or destroyed so much biodiversity is being lost.

What can you do?

Anyone with a garden can, on a small scale, help the bees. For example, participate in the NK Tile Whipping: remove some tiles from your garden and plant suitable trees, shrubs and organic bulbs. Plants that are good for biodiversity include yarrow, autumn aster, catnip, lavender, snakeweed, butterfly bush and wild marjoram.

Stichting Steenbreek has compiled a comprehensive list of trees, shrubs, climbers and perennials that contribute to biodiversity. This list can be found at Steenbreek | Getting Started with Biodiversity in the City. Also remember to report the number of tiles you remove from your garden at NK Tegelwippen | Meedoen.

It is nice that at least once a year on Biodiversity Day, we reflect globally on the value and richness of life on Earth. However, we can contribute to it every day. Will you also participate?