Collingwood’s Community Garden Will Celebrate Biodiversity

We can no longer see the continued loss of biodiversity as an issue separate from the core concerns of society: to tackle poverty, to improve the health, prosperity and security of present and future generations, and to deal with climate change. Each of those objectives is undermined by current trends in the state of our ecosystems, and each will be greatly strengthened if we finally give biodiversity the priority it deserves…Now we have clear warnings of the potential breaking points towards which we are pushing the ecosystems that have shaped our civilizations. For a fraction of the money summoned up instantly to avoid economic meltdown, we can avoid a much more serious and fundamental breakdown in the Earth’s life support systems.     UN Global Biodiversity Outlook 3

The United Nations Report Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (GBO3) was released in May to coincide with the outcome of biodiversity targets governments pledged to meet in 2010. Goals that were established in 2002 by the world’s governments were not met. As Canada celebrates World Environment Day, whose theme this year is “Many Species, One Planet, One Future” on June 5, it has the dubious distinction shared with the United States of losing a higher percentage of forest cover than other countries in the world, including Brazil and Indonesia between 2000-2005, according to the National Academy of Sciences-USA. In other words, Canada lost 160,000 square kilometres of forest as a result of human (tar sands, climate change induced mountain pine beetle infestation, forest exploitation, to name just a few) and natural causes such as lighting causing fire . On a provincial level we know that biodiversity loss continues to diminish well-being in Ontario. For example, the annual report by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, entitled “Building Resilience” is critical of weak efforts to protect our amphibian population who give us a realistic picture of the overall level of health in our communities. Habitat loss or its degradation and fragmentation lead the causes of their destruction but unsustainable harvesting, invasive species, emerging diseases as well as climate change and ozone depletion is threatening our area’s amphibians more than ever before. Local municipalities don’t help by continuing to grant development corporations permits that destroy our wetlands and forests while mandarins proclaim a vision for the future in sustainability ‘plans’ that are a travesty of democratic involvement and scientific knowledge. Governments around the world have essentially refused to protect our youth and future generations of life on Earth. The 95 page GBO3 reflects this tragedy on almost every page through graphs, photographs and text.

Affirmative action for Nature, as mentioned in a recent article, is as much a value and moral issue as it is a beginning of a survival plan. Such a plan can protect both disadvantaged humans and life on Earth. If governments have shirked their responsibilities to act in the best interests of their citizens, an involved ethical citizenry will create the means for change. The GBO3 points out that those areas that are considered sacred by indigenous communities are able to sustain the resiliency of natural places and support local economies. Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, is worried that nations and many adults have “fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world”.

GBO3 speaks of a crisis in genetic diversity. Natural areas, livestock and seeds for crops are undergoing vast species extinctions. Collingwood finally has a community garden where we’ll emphasis the growing of heritage seeds and low-impact organic gardening practices. Georgian Triangle Earth Day Celebrations, Elephant Thoughts and Katimavik are breaking ground next week, thanks to Margaret and Eric Willis’ donation of ¾ acre of sunny ground. It is a chance for our community to work together and begin to fashion a cohesive response to biodiversity loss through one of several positive hands-on initiatives that will inspire young and old. If you are interested in participating in the garden, write to celebrateearth@yahoo.ca More to come regarding this exciting venture.

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