Here’s a difficult question for you. If there could only be one other species of animal on earth which would you choose?
Would it be a faithful dog to keep you company? Bees are important, they pollinate so many plants that provide us food. Maybe you’d choose beauty in the form of a cassowary or a magnificent wedge-tailed eagle. It could satisfy you knowing there are dolphins in the ocean. What about termites that dispose of fallen timber? Which one would you choose? It's an impossible question.
This year the United Nations' theme for World Environment Day is Time for Nature. We are all being called on to act to protect our natural world. To defend it from ourselves and to never give up.
The list of animals and plants that we depend upon is enormous. From tiny bacteria that help us break down our food, to whales that provide jobs for tourism industries, to mangroves that protect our homes from cyclones and forests that provide us with timber for our homes. Nature provides us with everything we use in our lives. Yet we are destroying it, often without thought. The actions of humans are driving species to extinction at a rate faster than ever before. Those that haven't disappeared completely have had their populations severely depleted. It has been estimated that since 1970 people have wiped out 60 per cent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. It will take millions of years for nature to recover the losses that humans have inflicted.
The problem is a global one and far to great for any one of us to solve on our own. We must 'think globally but act locally' as never before. It can start in our own backyards, literally. Our gardens can become a haven for local birds and insects if they contain local plants. By avoiding pesticides as much as possible, the insects that birds feed on will be plentiful enough.
Personal action is important but not enough to prevent the damage that is causing destruction of nature across the globe. As individuals we can act by pressuring our politicians to support nature and by voting for representatives who have sound environmental policies. Together we can turn the tide.