Nature and Biodiversity
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 159 countries signed the Biodiversity Convention, committing to “conserve the variety of animals and plants within their jurisdiction”, with further agreements made at the Johannesburg Summit in 2002. The school Biodiversity Action Plan can begin with a framework for species and habitat conservation within the school compound. Later, it can be extended to the nearby local communities, encouraging local people and local organisations to work together to conserve biodiversity both in and around the school.
Why does biodiversity matter?
Biodiversity affects our lives in many ways:
- We depend on a healthy natural environment for many things, from food and medicine to flood control and leisure.
- Evidence shows that contact with nature is good for our health and well-being. Natural green places provide natural solutions to many diseases – obesity and inactivity; heart disease and strokes; depression and mental illness.
- Green spaces are our insurance policy against the impacts of climate change. Trees, green roofs and public parks can make urban areas cooler and help reduce the risk of flooding, keeping homes and businesses dry.
- Towns and cities with trees, parks and other green spaces are shown to better attract and retain a workforce and draw in investment.
Biodiversity and schools
School grounds are ideal places to get children involved, in a hands-on way, with the natural environment. They offer a safe, practical and exciting opportunity for outdoor learning that can complement classroom-based activities.
Eco-Schools Scotland has offered a list of objectives and learning outcomes related to this theme in their page: http://www.ecoschoolsscotland.org/page.asp?pg=41. For example, one of the objectives of pursuing this theme is to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity, and to increase students' direct contact with nature through outdoor learning. One of the learning outcomes is for students to describe the importance of biodiversity in their local area and what can be done to improve it.