What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity refers to the animals, plants, natural environment and ecosystems found on the planet. It provides a range of environmental, social and economic benefits, which people derive from nature, which are referred to as ecosystem services (essential for our survival) to include:
- Provisioning services are the products obtained from ecosystems to include the supply of food, the freshwater that we drink, the clean air we breathe, energy sources for heat, fibre for clothes and medicines.
- Regulating services are the benefits derived from the regulation of ecosystem processes, for example, climate regulation, natural hazard regulation, water purification, waste management and pollination.
- Habitat services highlight the importance of ecosystems that provide habitats for wildlife.
- Cultural services include non-material benefits that people obtain from ecosystems, which include recreational assets for walking and aesthetic values to ensure our physical & mental wellbeing.
However, the value of ecosystem services (natural capital) provided from the natural environment to society is immense and often undervalued. The loss of biodiversity due to habitat loss, pollution, climate change and invasive alien species affects these essential ecosystem services. We all have a responsibility to protect biodiversity. Government, businesses, local communities, landowners and individuals all have a role in protecting biodiversity. If we take care of nature, it will take care of us.
Since signing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992, the UK has committed to halting the loss of biodiversity. Subsequently, the UK Biodiversity Action Plan was published in 1994, which proposed that Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAP) should be prepared to implement the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Since the publication of this first LBAP for the District, there has been several legislation and policy changes relevant to biodiversity. The Wildlife and Natural Environment (NI) Act 2011 introduced a new statutory Biodiversity Duty for public bodies. Also, the Local Government Act (NI) 2014, introduced the creation of a Community Plan by local authorities, to improve the long term social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the District. Therefore, to reflect these changes and to address the threats to the environment, we have responded by developing a Derry & Strabane Green Infrastructure Plan 2019 – 2032. Green Infrastructure recognizes that humans depends upon healthy functioning ecosystems to survive.
Different sectors came together to form the Green Infrastructure Stakeholder Group, to address common threats. They have developed the Green Infrastructure Plan 2019 – 2032,with Biodiversity as a Key Strategic Theme, which represents the District’s LBAP. Under the Biodiversity Key Strategic Theme of the Green Infrastructure Action Plan, there will be several key biodiversity action plans to include the development of a new Habitat & Species Action Plan, a Pollinator Plan and Invasive Alien Species Plan for Council owned sites.